Frequently Asked Questions: School Docent Program
- What is the expected commitment for school docents?
- Do school docents have a particular day and time each week that they are required to be available to give tours?
- Would I be expected to give a tour every week?
- When do tours take place?
- What might students experience on a school tour?
- Do I need prior knowledge of art to be a school docent?
- Is it necessary to have prior experience working with school-age groups or younger children?
- Are school docents able to pick which tours and age ranges they teach?
- Is parking available at the National Gallery for school docents?
- How many applicants will be accepted to the new school docent class?
- Currently how many school docents are there?
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 September to May from 10:15-2:00 and on occasional Wednesdays from 10:15-12:30. The majority of sessions will take place in-person, and a few select sessions will be offered on Zoom. After completing a few months of training, starting January, 2025 new docents begin providing school tours on their selected tour day.
School docents choose one day per week when they need 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 National Gallery on their tour day unless a tour has been assigned.
Our school tours run from the beginning of October through the end of May with breaks around major holidays. School docents are expected to be available to give tours on 24 weeks during that time.
School tours take place Monday through Friday beginning at 10:15 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m. Tours last from 60 to 90 minutes depending upon the theme and the grade level.
School tours are designed to be student-centered, interactive and engaging. A typical tour will include four stops. Docents might incorporate activities such as sketching, small group work and creative writing to foster careful observation and conversation around works of art.
Docents are not required to have prior knowledge of art. They receive extensive ongoing training in museum teaching, understanding student audiences, and art history.
Relevant experience working with school-age groups or younger children can be helpful but not required. Docents come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences.
School docents are expected to lead all school tours offered by the National Gallery for students from pre-kindergarten age through grade 12.
Parking is available on a limited basis for new school docents while they are giving tours. There is metered parking available on surrounding streets, and the National Gallery is accessible by Metro. Carpools are encouraged.
The National Gallery anticipates accepting approximately 40 applicants into the new school docent class.
The National Gallery has approximately 60 active school docents.