More Docent News

Sharing Ideas and Experience - Be a Resource for your fellow docents!  


How has the NDSC brought value to you and your practice as a docent or guide?

Have you:

  • Joined the Facebook Forum, an NDSC webinar, or a Regional Virtual Roundtable?
  • Attended a National Docent Symposium with fellow docents and guides?
  • Turned to the NDSC website as an educational resource?
  • Discovered tips and tools in one of our two Docent Handbooks?

As a member of our docent community, we hope you’ll support our efforts this Giving Tuesday, November 28. It kicks off our annual campaign, providing essential funds. This year, your donation will help us to offer:

  • A new and more dynamic website
  • Additional webinars and Regional Roundtable discussions
  • Educational Grants to the 2024 Atlanta Symposium

With your help, the NDSC can continue to provide you with more ways to learn, share and connect in the year ahead. We appreciate your participation AND your donation. Thank you for all you do as a valued member of our community!

Thank you for your DONATION. We appreciate your support!

by Jeanne Heise and Anne Minteer, Western Region Directors

In June 2023, the Western Region hosted a popular virtual roundtable titled, “Reimagining
Docent Training.” Over 50 docents/guides attended representing 21 museums from six out of
seven states within the region.
The post pandemic landscape has resulted in shrinking docent populations at many institutions.
Increased focus on DEIA and social justice issues has required changes in recruitment of
docents, in structure and timing of classes, and in the content and duration of training.
Museums, and their docent organizations, across the region are trying to adapt and replenish
their docent corps. Our topic struck a chord.

Join us at the 2024 National Docent Symposium in Atlanta as a Breakout Session or a Sip & Share table talk presenter. Proposal Deadline Extended 

There's still time to be a part of it!  We've extended the proposal  deadline to November 1, 2023.

Take advantage of two opportunities to share your experience, knowledge, and touring and engagement strategies with your peers. Click here to watch the Program Chairs describe the options.

Breakout Sessions, the traditional 60-minute workshop, will feature up to 3 presenters sharing innovative touring and engagement strategies to engage with various audiences or ideas on expanding, training, or diversifying your docent corps. Click here for Breakout Session ideas and how to submit a proposal.

Sip & Share is an exciting new programming initiative featuring table presenters sharing best practices in 15-20 minute sessions. In this two-hour program, docents will rotate among the tables, drink in hand, connect with their colleagues, and learn new ways to enhance their docenting practice. Click here for more information about Sip & Share and how to submit a proposal. 

Consider sharing your topic in both! Your Sip & Share presentation could hone in on one aspect of your Breakout Session topic. Or consider expanding your Sip & Share into a Breakout Session.

Questions? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Act now! Session proposals are due November 1, 2023!

San Diego Museum of Art Docents and Educators Collaborate on Popular Student Artist Workshop Program
by Anne Minteer, Regional Director, West

In 2021, docents and Museum educators at the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) saw a looming problem. Eventually, students would be returning to SDMA after the Covid pandemic. Was there a way to increase collaboration between docent volunteers and Museum education staff? Could we provide students with an opportunity to pair observing and interpreting art in the galleries with the exploratory process of creating art in a workshop setting?

We found an answer in the Student Artist Workshop (SAW) program and 400 students in San Diego County attended sessions during the 2022-2023 school year. The theme: Landscape Mood Painting-Comfort and Calm. A version of the program had existed pre-pandemic, but we wanted to increase the scale and level of collaboration between the docent and education teams.

   At the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), like many other museums and cultural facilities, closures due to covid forced a rethinking of how our institutions connect to our surrounding communities. Video and Zoom links became a huge part of adapting “to bring art to the classroom” instead of the classrooms to the art. Lectures and curator presentation given to the AGO membership continued to keep us linked to the outside and entertained while we were confined to our homes. It also meant, a large number of our staff had their talents redeployed supporting these activities and allowing for and justifying continued employment. Volunteers supported this strategy while remaining on hold waiting for a time when the AGO staff could focus on us and we could reengage with the public.

While waiting for our time, Gallery Guides stayed active through self organized zoom meetings. During Volunteer Week, we organized a zoom tour of some of our favourite AGO works of art for all the volunteers. Staff made time to keep us informed of current AGO activities and timing of reopening strategies. Gallery Guides continued to stay active and took advantage of generous offers from other North America galleries who offered tours of their exhibitions. We made new connections.

Peer to Peer: Perfecting Your Craft

National Docent Symposium 2024 Atlanta  

Mark your calendars! The National Docent Symposium is headed to Atlanta – November 14-17, 2024! The High Museum of Art Docent Corps hosted the Symposium in 1993, and we can't wait to welcome you back.

We can't think of a better place than Atlanta to Perfect Your Craft. Atlanta is a diverse city with a rich cultural heritage that is always looking forward. The city boasts over 40 world-class museums and cultural sites, plus extensive dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Atlanta presents endless opportunities to explore new ideas and expand your horizons.

Our Theme, Peer to Peer: Perfecting Your Craft, reflects what the National Docent Symposium is all about – docents learning from docents. A biannual conference put together by docents for docents. Peer to Peer: Perfecting Your Craft is also deeply personal for our High Docent Corps. It's the name of one of our docents' favorite programs and has its roots in a Montreal 2017 National Docent Symposium breakout session attended by one of our co-chairs.

You will not want to miss this exciting event, so sign up for NDSC emails and follow NDSC on Facebook to get the latest details. NDSAtl24 website is launched! Video link: Atlanta welcomes you back.

Missed it? Diversifying the Docent Corps webinar video is available now.

The video of our first webinar of 2023, an encore presentation of a breakout session from the Kansas City National Docent Symposium last September, is now available: here 

The Crocker Art Museum's Docent Council initiative to diversify its corps has reaped significant results over the past three years. Hear their stories and strategies during this one-hour program.

We were thrilled to welcome 960 webinar registrants. The docent and guide community was well represented - 650 attendees from 45 states, five Canadian provinces and 200 museums/institutions joined us for the live program. 

We look forward to presenting more programs and resources this year. The webinar was made possible by donations from our supportive docent and guide community. Please consider making a contribution toward future programming by clicking on the donate button on the home page or here.


Betsy Burgess and Linda Miller, Docents, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno NV (Spring 2022)

The Nevada Museum of Art currently has an exhibition of works by Jean LaMarr, a native American artist. Museum docents and staff felt it was important when presenting her art to learn the story of the local Stewart Indian residential school, one of over 500 Indian residential schools operational in the US from 1890 to about 1980.

“Experiences Make Better Docents” is a Nevada Museum of Art program to develop empathy and understanding of the lives and cultural backgrounds of diverse populations, to be better guides for our visitors. Lack of knowledge about the recent history and culture of Native American people presented challenges to the docents presenting the art.  Museum staff arranged an opportunity to learn more.  

Bob Del Prete, Docent, The Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina (Spring, 2022)

As we all experienced during Covid shutdowns, the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte North Carolina was forced to adjust. As a Mint docent and like many in the National Docent Symposium community I witnessed firsthand the many changes that we all endured during the pandemic; tours cancelled, the museum closed, in-person docent meetings and docent field trips cancelled. We found new ways to engage, including outdoor activities and walking tours. We found great stories outside the museum walls!

Jessica Gaynor, Chair-Elect, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Docent Council (Fall 2021)

Little did we know how much we missed each other and our connection to our museum, until one day, no, actually, one year, we had to do without. This is the story of how the docents at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) stayed connected not only with one another, but with docents in museums all over our country.

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