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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 Office
202.633.4640 (voice); 202.357.4814 (TTY)

Freer Gallery/Sackler Gallery* Docent Programs

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

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center* Public Programs

American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery Docent Program*
202.633.8544 or 633.8550

National Portrait Gallery* Docent Program
202.633.5357; e-mail:

Visitor Information Center* in the Smithsonian Castle
202.633.1000 (voice/tape); e-mail:

American History Museum Docent Program*
202.633.3690 (voice); 202.357.1563 (TTY)

National Zoo* Friends of the National Zoo Dept. of Education

Anacostia Community Museum Education Department

Natural History Museum* Volunteer Program
202.633.1083 (voice); 202.633.9287 (TTY)

Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum*
Education Department 212.849.8353