Thank You Docents & Guides Here and There!


With the end of the year approaching for many docent & guide organizations the National Docent Symposium Council thinks it is a great idea to thank all the wonderful people who volunteer countless hours making the museum experience a meaningful one for visitors. What is the best way to honor docents? What keeps docents docenting (possibly not a word but you know what I mean?) Museums often find ways to honor docents at this time of the year. Luncheons are held, awards are given and in San Francisco, California and Evansville, Indiana Mayoral Proclamations were handed down last year to recognize docents and the amazing service they give. Museums also give parking discounts, gift shop discounts, sponsor enrichment trips and give holiday parties. I think docents enjoy the parties, discounts, and recognition but I wonder if this is what really keeps docents contributing untold volunteer hours to their museums.

I asked docents who have volunteered from 4 to 32 years what keeps them returning year after year? The number one response was the opportunity to continue to learn. The learning takes place in the training docents receive from their museums but also many docents noted that learning occurs from the visitors we tour. Yes, even a five year old has shared something they see in a painting that has led me to look at it in a new way.

Jan Thorman a NDSC director expressed it very well: "I've continued to be a docent because it is so much fun. While not every tour is terrific, most of them are. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to spend an hour with our school children, college students, or adults, and see their excitement and enthusiasm. Connecting with people through art is a gift I treasure every time it happens"

Many docents also expressed appreciation that their museums recognized them as an important part of the museum team. Another common sentiment is having a great admiration for the museum they work for and having the opportunity to be part of the institution. Docents also recognize that friendships are made as we meet people who share common interests.

So let's enjoy our end of the year luncheons but also congratulate ourselves for finding an avocation that provides us with so many intrinsic rewards. One docent wrote that it was the "best job I ever had". The NDSC agrees with that sentiment but wants to also offer this public Thank You!


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