Spotlight on D.C. 2019

The next National Docent Symposium will be October 24 to 27, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the docents of the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, planning for NDS 2019 involves docents from many different institutions in the D.C. metro area. Learn more about your 2019 hosts, their partners, and the pre-symposium tour venues in this section. Check their website, for more details about the symposium. And be sure to sign up to stay informed by joining our email list.

David Weisz, Docent, Renwick Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Renwick Gallery, located just steps from the White House, has long been one of Washington's "hidden gems," but it is "hidden" no longer. Since re-opening in 2015 after a two-year renovation, this National Historic Landmark has hosted a number of spectacular and very popular exhibitions.

Sarah Merck, Docent, U.S. Botanic Garden and Freer/Sackler Galleries of Art

In the exciting and hectic world of Washington, D.C, you can find peace and beauty at the U.S. Botanic Garden located very near to the U.S. Capitol. The Conservatory houses plants from around the world including a rare African desert plant, a welwitschia, that can live to be 2,000 years; three plants that date back to an 1842 expedition; and a cacao or chocolate tree often laden with pods full of chocolate beans. The Conservatory has many galleries of plants: the desert; the Mediterranean; orchids; rare and endangered plants; medicinal plants; the tropical rain forest; the primeval garden; plants of the Southeast and Southwest; Hawaiian plants; plant adaptations; a children's garden; and the large garden court. Tours are offered frequently.

Lisa Horvath, Volunteer Services Supervisor, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens 

Nestled on twenty-five acres adjacent to Rock Creek Park in northwest Washington, D.C., this hidden gem is the former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, who purchased it in 1955, determined that her home would be a place that would inspire and educate the public.

March is Woman's History month and a very busy time at The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Recently celebrating its 30th anniversary, the museum is home to over 5000 works of art by 1000 artists dating from the Renaissance to the present day. Along with the permanent collection and the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, there are several spaces for special exhibitions. On view until May 28 is Women House featuring work by 36 artists including Judy Chicago, Louise Bourgeois, and Niki de Saint Phalle. Also on view are prints by Chinese-born artist Hung Liu through July 8th.

Or, What it's Like to Have One of the Longest Titles Ever: Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum (NASM)

Being a volunteer at the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, is an honor no matter what role you play. For me, best of all is being a NASM Docent. As a child a family vacation to Washington DC gave me my first exposure to the Smithsonian and the Air and Space Museum. From that time on I knew aviation and the Smithsonian would both be in my life. My military and civilian career path never led to a job with the Smithsonian. However, I did serve in the US Air Force and got my private pilot's license. Then, as soon as I became eligible to retire, I purposely scheduled my retirement date for a Friday and started volunteering at the Smithsonian that following Monday.

The Freer Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., re-opened to the public on 14 October after undergoing over 18 months of infrastructure repair. The Freer, along with the Sackler Gallery, comprise the Asian Art Museums of the Smithsonian Institution. The re-opening included a two-day "IlluminAsia" festival. It was 'all hands on deck' for the Freer|Sackler docent corps as the celebratory re-opening brought approximately 50,000 people to events both inside and outside the museum. Docents provided in-gallery interpretation, acted as 'way finders', and supervised activities for both adults and children during the weekend. Activities included an Asian night market on the National Mall, so popular that the food stalls sold out on the first day, requiring the chefs to stay up all night preparing food for the next day.

Sixty-one artist ensembles and community organizations participated during the Opening Weekend.

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