Organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1981 as a meeting of art museum docents, the National Docent Symposium has become a biennial event hosting volunteer and staff educators from all museum disciplines.
In 1985, the multi-disciplined Oakland Museum Association hosted the Symposium and broadened its scope to include representatives from art, history, natural sciences museums and technology centers, as well as aquaria, zoos, regional parks, planetaria, botanical gardens, historic houses, and city guide groups.
“Pioneering New Frontiers,” the theme of the 1991 National Docent Symposium, was drawn from a recent Getty/National Endowment for the Arts project that researched and focused on the visitor as teacher, as learner, and as guest.
Hosted by the Denver Art Museum, the Sixth Biennial National Docent Symposium also involved the docents and staffs of the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoological Foundation, the Denver Museum of Natural History, and various other local area museums.
The 450 docents attending the 1991 Symposium benefit from over 30 different workshops .sessions and a “museum marketplace” where materials and ideas can be exchanged.
The 1993 meeting will be hosted by the High Museum in Atlanta, followed by the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History in 1995, and the Carnegie Museum, in Pittsburgh, in 1997.
Von Long, a Denver Art Museum docent. serves as Program Chair for the 1991 National Docent Symposium.
Long, Von “The National Docent Symposium,” The Docent Educator 1.1 (Autumn 1991): 12.