Volunteer Docent Opportunities

The National Portrait Gallery is recruiting a new docent class to start in fall 2024! 

Are you interested in American history, biography, and visual art? Do you like meeting new people? 

If the above questions pique your interest, consider becoming a volunteer docent at the Portrait Gallery! Our volunteer docents are a group of dedicated people who work with visitors in our galleries. The only prerequisite is an enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and working with people! Volunteer docents are trained to facilitate both virtual and in-gallery tours for the museum. 

We are now recruiting volunteer docents to lead guided tours of our collection on both weekdays and weekends. Docents make our history come alive for diverse audiences, helping them to fully experience the faces of our past, present, and future. The Portrait Gallery welcomes volunteer docents of all backgrounds and those who speak different languages, especially Spanish. 

This Volunteer Docent opportunity is posted through the main Smithsonian volunteer page at  https://www.si.edu/volunteer. Choose “Volunteer Opportunities” and use “Portrait Gallery” as a search option, which will lead you to the application.  

You may also use one of the links below to fill out an application.  

Applications are due by July 31, 2024

If you have questions about this opportunity, please contact NPGAdultTours@si.edu.  

Docent giving a tour in the gallery

 

About the Volunteer Docent Program

You Can Help Us Tell Our Story

The National Portrait Gallery opened its doors in 1968 with a unique mission chartered by Congress: to honor the history of the United States through the lives of the wonderfully diverse people who have made—and who are making—their marks on our country and our culture. Docents make our history come alive for our diverse audiences, helping them to fully experience the faces of our past, present, and future.

The National Portrait Gallery welcomes volunteer docents of all backgrounds and those who speak different languages, especially Spanish. People from all walks of life visit us every day, with some traveling here from abroad. The Museum’s volunteer docents are flexible, adapting their guided tours to our visitors’ interests and needs so they can better connect with the collection and the history it represents.

Docents learn about our collection, gallery teaching, and audience management through workshops and training sessions with curators and educators. Our volunteer docents must complete an initial 20-week course and be able to commit to the program for two full years. Tour schedules vary according to both Portrait Gallery and docent needs. We require a minimum of 6 hours per month, to be distributed across various tours and training sessions.

Requirements:

  • A two-year commitment to the program, facilitating at least 2 tours each month.
  • Completion of the 20-week volunteer docent training program.
  • Attendance at monthly in-service docent training sessions upon completion of the initial program; these sessions are designed to keep you up to date on current and upcoming exhibitions.

Our docents are:

  • Great communicators who are enthusiastic about the collection.
  •  Multi-lingual: Some speak different languages, including Spanish.
  • Lifelong learners: They enjoy learning new things and are willing to study the portraits in our collection in depth, so they can share the exciting stories behind these works.
  • Able to work with people of different ages, levels of education, and backgrounds.
  • Flexible, creative, and organized problem solvers.