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Frequently Asked Questions: Docents

The Division of Education recruits and teaches volunteers to lead general tours. Various tours are designed to serve the interests of both children and adults and are made available for the permanent collections and special exhibitions. Volunteer docents also give tours in foreign languages to students and adults. 

If you have a question, please read through the list of commonly asked questions. If your question is not addressed by the list, please e-mail d-palmer@nga.gov. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you. 

1. What is the expected commitment for school docents?

New school docents are expected to make a five-year commitment, which includes the two-year initial training. During the initial training, new docents participate in sessions on Thursdays from 10:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on occasional Wednesdays from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A full training calendar will be given out in summer 2016. After completing a few months of training, new docents begin providing school tours on their selected tour day.

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2. Do I need prior knowledge of art to be a school docent?

Docents are not required to have prior knowledge of art. They are required to hold an undergraduate degree or equivalent experience through work or study. Docents receive extensive ongoing training in museum teaching, audience, and the Gallery’s collection.

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3. Is it necessary to have prior experience working with school-age groups or younger children?

Relevant experience working with school-age groups or younger children is helpful but not required.

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4. Are school docents able to pick tours and age ranges they teach?

School docents are expected to lead all school tours offered by the Gallery for students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

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5. Do school docents have a particular day and time each week that they are required to be available to give tours?

School docents choose one day per week when they are to be available to give tours, but they do not give more than two tours on that day. Tours are assigned approximately three weeks in advance, and docents do not have to be at the Gallery on their tour day unless a tour has been assigned.

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6. When do tours take place?

School tours take place Monday through Friday beginning at 10:15 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. during the months of October through May. Tours last from 60 to 90 minutes depending upon the theme and the grade level.

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7. Is parking available at the Gallery for school docents?

On-site parking is available on a limited basis for school docents on their tour days once they begin providing tours. There is metered parking available on surrounding streets, and the Gallery is accessible by Metro. Carpools are strongly encouraged.

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8. What is the dress code for school docents?

There is no official dress code for school docents, but it is suggested that school docents dress in professional attire.

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9. How many applicants will be accepted to the new school docent class?

The Gallery anticipates accepting approximately 40 applicants into the new school docent class.

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10. Currently how many school docents are there?

The Gallery has approximately 60 active school docents.

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