National Docent Symposium

Sip & Share

Friday, November 15, 2024 | 5 to 7 p.m., Sequoia Ballroom

Continue “Perfecting Your Craft” at Sip & Share. What’s on tap? A brief presentation and a chance to talk for about 20 minutes with presenters and fellow docents about the topic at hand. Casually travel from table to table, with a drink in hand, to learn new touring strategies, ways to incorporate touch objects and tech, ideas for museum outreach and specialty tours, and more!


Using iPads to Explore the Museum
See iPad demonstrations and learn ways to incorporate interactive tech strategies (like Google Earth) and innovative themes to explore museum art, travel the globe, and create fun, shorter tours for visitors of all ages.

Karin Bell, Docent
Raquel Garcia, Docent
Bowers Museum | Santa Ana, California

The Mindful Museum Program
Learn about weekly “3 in 30” docent-led tours for visitors ages 55+, using Art Engagement Methodology (AEM) to inspire lifelong learning.

Scott Grosh, Docent
Delaney Oakes, Docent
Carnegie Museum of Art | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Off-Site Tours: Artist Studios
Discuss ways that enrichment opportunities in artists’ studios provide docents exposure to new perspectives and techniques, deepen an understanding of the creative process, and build connections between artists and the docent team.

Cindy Perreira, Volunteer Coordinator
City of Irving, Texas

Docent Mentorship: A Fresh Approach
Discuss a two-strand approach for peer-to-peer mentoring (P2P), with suggestions including a concise Mentor Checklist, shadowing, and co-touring experiences for both experienced and new docents.

Wendy Johnson
, Docent
Columbus Museum of Art | Columbus, Ohio

The Challenges and Benefits: Engaging Docents in a Hybrid Learning World
Make the most of hybrid learning possibilities with new ways to collaborate, including virtual and in-person opportunities such as ZAPs (Zoom Art Presentations), Gallery Bytes, and GAPs (Gallery Art Presentations).

Scherita Hill, Docent
Helen Skratt, Docent
Crocker Art Museum | Sacramento, California

How Docents Can Enrich All Volunteer Learning
Utilizing the skills and talents of its docent corps, learn how docents at The Denver Art Museum helped to create learning and enrichment activities for the entire volunteer community.

Jennifer Fowler, Docent
Denver Art Museum

Extramural: Enriching Tours with a Docent Travel Program
The Extramural program takes docents to galleries and sites outside museum walls, unique opportunities to become familiar with diversity in the arts. Examples and organizational tips will be shared.

Deborah Doyle, Docent, Co-Chair of Extramural Program
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

After the Symposium
How can we continue the learning momentum and docent collaboration? Learn the how-tos for creating an NDS committee charged with orchestrating follow-up and idea-sharing.

Mina Shea, Docent
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Beyond Training: Supporting Extended Learning
See how a Book Group, Film Group, Coffee Klatsch, field trips, curatorial talks, and professor and visiting artist presentations can all help docents meet their yearly training requirements and remain relevant and engaged.

Leslie Klein, Docent
Ruthanne Curry, Docent
Harn Museum of Art | Gainesville, Florida

The Artist as a Social Conscience: Meaningful and Sensitive Discussions
Watch and partake in the modeling of engagement techniques for unique tours and meaningful discussions to help share how artists raise awareness of social issues: racism, identity, war, violence, police brutality, poverty, and the perils of climate change.

Carole Weiner, Docent
Los Angeles County Museum of Art | Sherman Oaks, California

Creatively Connecting with Colleagues
Review structures and strategies to create small docent study or “buddy” groups to encourage knowledge sharing, challenging viewpoints, inspiration, and support for one another.

Lyn Osgood, Docent
Kit Wilson, Docent
Marne Zafar, Docent
Minneapolis Institute of Art | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Refining Our Language: “Don’t Say ____ !!”
Let’s talk about how we talk, trends by region or other patterns, museum directives, and how our word choices can signal welcome and inclusion during tours.

Marva Nathan, Volunteer Guide; Member, Board of Advisors
Karen Kelly Krowne, Docent
Museum of Fine Arts | Boston, Massachusetts

Balancing Online and In-Person Volunteering
Find the effective combination of organization tools, systems, and best practices to support volunteer responsibilities, learning, and enrichment.

Anne Short, Docent
Museum of Fine Arts | Boston, Massachusetts

NDSC Handbooks: Your Tools of the Trade
Take a closer look at tools and techniques in NDSC guides “The Docent Handbook 2” and “Tours with Children & Teens,” facilitated by the handbook authors.

Lindsay McAuliffe
Jan Thorman
National Docent Symposium Council

Using Our Senses to Enhance the Museum Experience
Consider ways to make the museum more approachable with a multi-sensory approach: materials that can be touched, smelled, and experienced.

Karen Skillett, Docent
Craig Anderson, Docent
Pegeen Blank, Docent
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art | Kansas City, Missouri

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS)
Creating robust tour experiences with Visual Thinking Strategies utilizing visual literacy, curiosity, understanding, listening, dialogue, and interpretation.

Bill Sitzer, Docent; Regional Director, NDS Council; V.P., Docent Council of Metropolitan St. Louis
Saint Louis Art Museum | Saint Louis, Missouri

Art+Empathy: Student Sentiment Tours
Learn about activity-based techniques to elevate students’ individual perspectives and responses to art in the galleries and explore the intersection of art with emotions of comfort and calm.

Gina Christensen, Docent
Cara Dealy, Art & Empathy Programs Educator
Courtney Flanagan, Docent
San Diego Museum of Art | San Diego, California

Autos as Art: Steer Docent Education & Recruitment in the Right Direction
Gear up for a speedy discussion on recruiting and educating docents (and creating engaging tours) when more complex scenarios, special collections, and rotating exhibits are the norm.

Andrea Camp, Volunteer Manager
Mary Agrusa, Docent and Curatorial Research Assistant
Savoy Automobile Museum | Cartersville, Georgia

Protecting Our Investment: Maintaining Docent Participation
Talk over adaptable ideas and strategies (many are free or low-cost, and usually low-tech) to expand, enrich, and maintain the docent experience and participation year after year.

Eileen Doughty, Docent Chair, 2023-24
Ruth Greenstein, Docent
Smithsonian American Art Museum | Washington, DC

Retaining Volunteers, Building Vibrancy
Share effective in-person and online techniques for building and maintaining a vibrant volunteer community, including fostering a welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment through recruitment, communication, engagement, and collaboration.

Karen Burgess, Docent
Richard Lum, Docent
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Asian Art (NMAA), Freer Gallery of Art | Washington, DC

Engaging Youth: Selfies and Portraits
Discuss strategies to help students create surprising connections between elegant oil paintings and portraits with today’s common art form: selfies.

Jeanie Silletti, Master Docent
Telfair Museums | Savannah, Georgia

Your Opening Line: Communication Skill-Building
Build a verbal to and fro using thoughtful cues with chosen words to elicit questions and strengthen listening.

Maria Piskor, Docent
The Ackland Art Museum at The University of North Carolina | Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Reinvigorate A Docent-Led Book Club
Facilitate docent-led book club meetings that both fellow docents and museum members won’t want to miss, with tips and techniques for selecting books, crafting discussion questions, managing conversations, and Zooming with authors, just to name a few.

Helen Huntley, Docent and Book Club Leader
Marsha Quinn, Docent
The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art | St. Petersburg, Florida

Serving Area Hospital Patients with Virtual Robot Tours
Bring your museum to hospital-bound patients via Virtual Robot Tours, an iPad video call with a robot situated in the museum, all to spark learning, connection, and combat isolation during a trying time in a hospital patient’s life.

Jane Harris, Museum Education and Training Specialist
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art | Sarasota, Florida

Our Favorites are Gone! What to Do?
Talk through strategies for keeping docents apprised of plans for re-installations, creating Object Focus Sheets, and other techniques for managing the gallery experience when tour stop favorites are removed.

Sharon Edlow, Docent
Theresa Varipatis, Docent
The Walters Art Museum | Baltimore, Maryland

The Whiteboard App: Download, Draw, Delete, Reveal!
Come for a hands-on demonstration of Whiteboard, an easy-to-use free app for tablets and cell phones, that can add imagination and fun to tours for kids of all ages as they create their own digital masterpieces.

Pat Hamilton, Docent
Toledo Museum of Art | Toledo, Ohio

Peers Support Peers: Benefitting from a Docent Growth Fund
Learn how grants from docent donations help fund craft-perfecting activities from a speaker’s forum and hands-on art workshops to digital publications communicating research and touring strategies, to name a few.

Kateri Walsh, Docent
Toledo Museum of Art | Toledo, Ohio

Peer-to-Peer Support: Improvement Through Collaboration
Learn how improved touring skills can be facilitated through annual performance reviews with peer-to-peer feedback that addresses what works and what needs to be refreshed.

Michael Coomes, Docent
Grace Toth, Director of Learning and Interpretation
Toledo Museum of Art | Toledo, Ohio

The Download on Digital Print Images: Expand Your Docent Toolbox
Explore how incorporating digital print images (examples will be presented) in your tour plan can help visitors of all ages interpret and understand individual objects in your museum’s collection.

David Stafford, Docent
Libbey Koppinger, Docent
Toledo Museum of Art | Toledo, Ohio

Creating a Virtual Tour Exchange Program
Explore ways to create collaborative educational opportunities by reaching out to museum volunteers nationwide through the National Docent Forum Facebook group, museum websites and education departments.

Ioli Advani, Docent
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | San Francisco, CA