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Docent Programs

Docent Programs

Most Smithsonian museums operate Docent Programs through their public programs or education departments. Docents are volunteer teachers who provide group learning experiences in the form of museum tours, demonstrations, or instruction in special activity areas.


Smithsonian Docent Programs provide the following services:

School Group Tours
Tours for school groups are conducted on a prescheduled basis and are designed to supplement the classroom curriculum or accommodate a specific study interest.
Special Interest Tours
Special interest tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activity areas offer an in-depth look at an exhibition, a collection, or a discipline. Some occur on a regular walk-in basis; others must be prescheduled.
Popular Highlights Tours
Highlights tours are generally available to the public on a walk-in basis and provide an overview of some of the popular and significant museum exhibitions.
Outreach Programs
Outreach programs – offered by some of the museums – "take the Smithsonian" to schools and community organizations. The program may provide an introduction for an upcoming museum visit or a unique educational experience for such community groups as nursing home residents.


Program Contacts

The Docent Program year varies from museum to museum. Some operate October through May; others operate year-round. Training programs, eligibility requirements, openings, and time commitments also vary.

If you wish to participate in a museum Docent Program, call Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the program of your choice (listed below). More information is also available on each museum's website.

Note: An asterisk * indicates weekend volunteer opportunities are available.

African Art Museum of Education Office202.633.4640 (voice);
202.357.4814 (TTY)
Freer Gallery/Sackler Gallery* Docent Programse-mail: Postal Museum* Department of Education 202.633.5534 (voice);
202.633.9849 (TTY)
Air and Space Museum and its Udvar-Hazy Center Docent Program*202.633.2548 (Mall);
703.572.4262 (U-H Center)

Horticulture Services Division 202.633.2220
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center* Public Programs301.238.2737
American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery Docent Program*202.633.8544 or 633.8550 National Portrait Gallery* Docent Program 202.633.5357
Visitor Information Center* in the Smithsonian Castle 202.633.1000 (voice/tape)
American History Museum Docent Program* 202.633.3690 (voice); 202.357.1563 (TTY) National Zoo* Friends of the National Zoo Dept. of Education 202.633.3025  
Anacostia Community Museum Education Department 202.633.4823 Natural History Museum* Volunteer Program 202.633.1083 (voice); 202.633.9287 (TTY)  
Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum*Education Department 212.849.8353