National Docent Symposium


Plan to arrive early to the Symposium and register for one of our optional half- or full-day Pre-Tours.

Full-Day Pre-Tours

Thursday, November 14, 2024 | 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Lunch is included
Cost: $150

The Teaching Museum and Historic Roswell

Full-day, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., $150 including lunch

Walking: Comfortable walking shoes and appropriate seasonal clothing are necessary

Begin your day at the Fulton County Teaching Museum.  It was created to provide  hands-on educational exhibits and arts-based programming that engages students in the Humanities, Language Arts, Mathematics, Sciences, and Fine Arts, with the goal of improving student achievement.  You will have a chance to explore several engagement strategies used by the museum including a live performance.  In the afternoon you will visit two historic houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Museum directors will share their efforts and challenges to keep the content of tours and exhibits current and relevant while expanding representation.


Tellus Science Museum and Savoy Automobile Museum: Building their Audience

Full-day, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., $150 including lunch

Walking: average indoor walking. Wheelchairs are available

Discover how the Tellus Science Museum and the Savoy Automobile Museum use programming and exhibits to engage and build their audiences.

Start the day at the Tellus Science Museum. This Smithsonian Affiliate institution engages, educates, and inspires visitors to make scientific connections through dynamic, hands-on exhibits and enriching experiences. You’ll enjoy a guided tour of its main galleries, digital planetarium, and four well-equipped labs. You’ll be able to observe a school visit and discuss STEM/STEAM tour approaches with museum interpretation staff. And you’ll participate in a fossil dig activity!

You’ll spend the afternoon at the Savoy Automobile Museum, which aims to connect people through the diversity of the automobile. Learn how the Museum, open since 2021, has quickly built its audience and membership through a frequently changing exhibition schedule, exciting educational programs, and engaging experiences. You’ll tour the Museum’s car exhibition galleries, theater, and art collection. 


Booth Western Art Museum & Etowah Indian Mounds

Full-day, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., $150 including lunch

Walking: Booth; slow walking indoors—Etowah; moderate walking outdoors. Weather-appropriate clothing is advised. 

Explore America’s story through historic and contemporary Western artwork, presidential portraits and letters, Civil War art, and Native American artifacts in this full-day tour of the Booth Western Art Museum and the Etowah Indian Mounds. The Booth Western Art Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the second-largest art museum in Georgia. Learn how docents practice their craft in the country’s largest permanent exhibition space for American Western art. From the Booth, you will continue to the Etowah Indian Mounds, a World Heritage site devoted to the rich history of the Mississippian people between 1,000 and 1550 A.D. Visitors will see the remnants of a powerful Native American chiefdom capital town, located along the Etowah River, containing a ceremonial complex with a plaza, burial mound, and platform mounds.


Finster’s Paradise Garden

Full-day, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., $150 including lunch

Walking: Considerable walking involving uneven terrain. Appropriate shoes and seasonal clothing are recommended

Don’t miss this opportunity to visit the historic Paradise Garden, the art environment of acclaimed self-taught artist Howard Finster, accompanied by folk art expert and collector Lynne Browne. Howard Finster, sometimes known as the ‘Grandfather of Southern Folk Art,’ is one of the most well-known and prolific self-taught artists, completing over 46,000 works of art. He began Paradise Garden in 1961, which continued to be his artistic focus until he died in 2001. It has been the site of numerous documentaries and music videos for bands like REM.


Atlanta History Center

Full-day, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., $150 including lunch

Walking: Moderate distance walking outside. Dress according to weather conditions.

The Atlanta History Center provides a deep look into the people and events that have shaped Atlanta, including the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, through self-guided tours and conversations with education staff and curators. The Civil War exhibit includes one of 2 remaining Cycloramas in the U.S. and a film that explains the artwork’s creation, restoration, and varied interpretations. Wander the History Center’s 33 acres of woods and gardens, which include the Swan House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Smith Farm, which tells the story of Georgia farm life and enslavement at Atlanta’s oldest surviving farmhouse.

Half-Day Pre-Tours

Thursday, November 14, 2024
Cost: $100

Center for Puppetry Arts

Half-day, 1 – 4 p.m., $100

Walking requirement: Easy indoor walking

The Center for Puppetry Arts features performances, curriculum-based workshops, a hands-on Museum, and digital learning and outreach programs.  Galleries include geographic exploration of the history and traditions of puppetry from different regions worldwide. The Jim Henson Gallery explores the imaginative mind and influential legacy of animator, inventor, filmmaker, screenwriter, and puppeteer Jim Henson. It includes puppets, props, and costumes from Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and more.  Participants will take part in a workshop exploring the craft of puppetry.


Museum of Papermaking

Half-day, 1 – 4 p.m., $100

Walking requirement: Easy indoor walking

The Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking melds art, history, technology, and industry from historical and global perspectives. We’ll follow the history of paper from the earliest examples of writing materials to the Chinese discovery of how to make paper, to the paper mills of Europe, and to the high-tech machinery of today’s modern paper industry. Our afternoon will include an introduction to papermaking with a hands-on activity where we’ll each make a single sheet of paper. The experience will continue with a Suminagashi workshop, the ancient Japanese art of paper marbling. Suminagashi means “Ink floating on water.” We’ll create beautiful one-of-a-kind ink patterns and learn how to transfer them onto Japanese papers. Join us for this afternoon of paper fun!


Historic Oakland Cemetery

Half-day, 1 – 4 p.m., $100

Walking: This tour requires considerable walking, often on uneven brick paths. Appropriate shoes and seasonal clothing are recommended.

Journey back in time and visit the Historic Oakland Cemetery. You’ll learn about Victorian symbolism and funeral architecture from a docent-led tour of this popular gathering spot for the living and 70,000 deceased residents, including many of the city’s most notable citizens. Bring your camera to capture the gardens, art, and architecture as you explore the grounds with a photography facilitator. Participate in discussions with the director and educators at Oakland as they share the ideas and development of their tours and their ongoing research to tell the stories of the many forgotten, yet important residents, and restoration projects.


Breman Museum of Jewish History

Half-day, 1 – 4 p.m., $100

Walking:  Easy indoor walking

The Breman Museum, a preeminent cultural center in the Southeast, connects people of all backgrounds to understand and appreciate Jewish history, culture, and arts. The Museum’s permanent Holocaust exhibition highlights the resilience of local survivors and includes comprehensive archives on Southern Jewish History, the most extensive of their kind. The Museum is known for its events, concerts, lectures, genealogy resources, educational workshops, and enlightening tours for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Half-day, 1 – 4 p.m., $100
Walking requirement: Easy indoor walking

Spend an afternoon at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a museum and human rights organization that inspires people to tap their power to change the world around them. The Center’s iconic exhibitions feature the papers andartifacts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the history of the civil rights movement in the United States, and stories from the struggle for human rights worldwide today. The Center brings history alive through immersive experiences for visitors and provides teachers with tools to teach civil rights history by provoking critical thinking about democratic practice and civic participation.


Private tour:  Wood Grain, Patterns, and Colors at Moulthrop Studios 

Half-day, 1 – 4 p.m., $100

Walking: Easy, indoor walking

The Moulthrop Studio tour features the family home and studio where three generations of artist-woodturners have transformed the genre of wood-turning into a widely respected art form. Like Michelangelo finding the figure in a chunk of marble, the family has developed a sense of the possibilities of grain, patterns, and colors hidden in these unassuming logs. Their vessels are in private collections worldwide and in museums such as the MET, MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Visitors will see work created in the studio and tour the extensive art collection in the Moulthrop family home.


Sold Out | Private Art Collection: 19th and 20th Century American Art

Half Day, 9 a.m. 1 p.m., $100

Walking:   Easy walking indoors.

This extraordinary private art collection features 19th and 20th Century American art, including the Hudson River School, Ashcan School, and Realism.


Sold Out | High-Rise Private Collections

Half-day, 1 – 4 p.m., $100

Walking requirement:  Easy indoor walking

Spend an afternoon in a luxury Atlanta high-rise and view two exceptional but very different private art collections. The first features one of the largest private African American art collections in the U.S. and includes works of celebrated and emerging artists. The second features an outstanding modern and contemporary art and sculpture collection.