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Dedicated to providing an ongoing forum for docent education and the exchange of ideas since 1981

Commitment to the NDSC/NDS future

National Docent Symposium Council (NDSC) 2016 Annual Meeting

Thirty-three NDSC members met in picturesque Montreal, Canada, October 5-6, 2016 for our annual planning and business meeting. The NDSC is an unusual organization, comprised of volunteer docents/guides who live in various parts of the US and Canada, who meet once a year and conduct business primarily by email.

So what holds this group together?

Commonality: Our commonality is to maintain and build on a solid foundation for future symposia and other NDSC sponsored educational opportunities. We voluntarily accept the responsibilities and requirements for a four year NDSC term of service that makes continuity possible. We are committed to the NDSC/NDS future.

Challenge: Our challenge as an organization is to ensure that the NDSC/NDS remains relevant and viable. We set our goals and objectives with an eye and ear focused on the future, with special attention given to managing our financial and human resources. We are committed to the NDSC/NDS future.

Teamwork: Our members are dedicated team players. Our strong suit is the broad base of leadership, experience and knowledge that thirty-three people bring to the table. Identifying issues and problem solving must be streamlined by teamwork when you have two short days to manage the next year's work. We are committed to the NDSC/NDS future.

A limited number of Kramer/NDSC Educational Grants covering registration fees for 2017 NDS Montreal are available and applications are now being accepted. Please look under the "Resources" tab for details on eligibility, the application process and the application link. 

We are less than a year away from the Montreal Symposium in 2017 NDS Montreal and there is much to anticipate. The Symposium takes place during the 375th anniversary of Montreal and the city is going all out to celebrate. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in cooperation with the McCord Museum are sponsoring a kilometer long streetscape of 67 works of art. Click on this LINK to read more about Montreal's celebration:

Nuit Blanche, an all-night arts festival originated in Nantes, France in 1984, and gradually spread to many cities in Europe. Typically, museums, private and public art galleries, and other cultural institutions are free to the public and open all night. The centre of the city is turned into a de facto art gallery with art shows, music, art, and film and dance performances.

On October 1, 2016, The Art Gallery of Ontario hosted 23,050 visitors between the hours of 6:58 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. on October 2. Many visitors were at the AGO for the first time. Says Melissa Smith, Coordinator, Gallery Guide Program and Adult Education Officer Program: "We were able to collect a lot of emails through a photo booth and requiring an email address to sign into our Wi-Fi. We have connected by sending emails about upcoming exhibitions and programs to encourage a repeat visit."

The Docent Handbook, Sponsored by the National Docent Symposium

Chapter 8 of The Docent Handbook has ideas for engaging with museum visitors through a wide range of movement and theater activities. Make your tour interactive and offer fun new ways to learn! 

Handbooks will not be on sale at the 2017 Symposium in Montreal but they are available in the U.S. and Canada now! The Docent Handbook continues to be a best seller at $20.00 each. 

Send your Handbook Order to: 

Elaine C. Mason, Handbook Coordinator

8633 O'Neal Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27613

Include a check or money order (made out to the National Docent Symposium) for the cost of the books.

If you need to order a large number for a class we sell the case of 28
for a cost of $420.00, includes postage.

Invoices area available on request.


The Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science currently has 28 active Docents. We were in desperate need of increasing our numbers to meet the Museum's need to lead tours, and to assist at events.

Previous marketing to increase our numbers had very little success. However, this year we hosted a very successful Welcome Coffee! The marketing strategy was forceful. We utilized the local newspapers for the Upcoming Events section. Pictures of Docent activities were sent to the newspapers for their social page. Television appearances were scheduled with Docent officers to discuss the upcoming "Coffee" and the enjoyment you receive from volunteering at the Museum. Docent brochures were created and distributed to church and social groups.


You'll find educational website links recommended by docents under the Resource menu tab. Docents who suggested the sites have found the information contained there to enhance their continuing art education. The sites may add to your art history knowledge or help you stay current on trends in the field. Events and personality profiles can be found as well.

As with Book and Movie Reviews, we hope you'll share the sites you've found to be of value. Send your recommendations to Public Relations Committee Chair Kristen Keirsey:


Mary Peoples, Docent, Denver Art Museum and Mananitas Liaison.

One of the things that makes Denver special is its rich, diverse community - our Latino population alone makes up almost one-third of Denver residents. The Denver Art Museum is committed to making art accessible to all visitors and has developed a variety of programs that invite and serve the Latino community. We offer bilingual and Spanish language tours as well as other programs which celebrate Latino art and culture such as Día del Niño, the Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, CelebrARTE, and Mañanitas.

Mañanitas celebrates the cultures of the Americas and exposes children and their parents to the museum collections and its family programs. Mañanitas is Spanish for the word "morning" and is also the name of the Spanish song sung at birthday parties - in other words, a fun morning event! Four times a year, all of the second through fifth graders from a school are invited to the museum for Mañanitas, a fun-filled morning of art-related activities. We encourage schools to invite as many parents as possible. 

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art saw a need in our city to reach out to preschool populations and through the help of the Smithsonian Early Childhood program, developed a plan to bring preschoolers to the museum. Our presentation describes object based learning, which is the basis of our program, and its value in the museum setting while offering opportunities to explore works of art in a gallery setting thus building critical thinking skills. Our long term goal is that these students and their families will view the museum as a resource for life-long learning. A detailed description of our early childhood program is included so it can be replicated in any type of museum. Click here for more information. 

Facing the upcoming temporary closing of the Freer, one half of the Smithsonian's Freer|Sackler Museum of Asian Art, docents knew beloved collections and objects would be out of view for at least a year. Our Education Department came up with the idea of a special, more impromptu way to interact with visitors and called it "Freer in Focus." Docents selected a favorite object or gallery and spent ten to twenty minutes talking with walk-in visitors, just about the docent's selection. The voluntary option was popular with docents and visitors. For one "Focus" I chose the world-famous "Freer Beaker" [to see this object on line, go to:].