Docent Program

Docents support the museum by staffing interactive carts assisting visitors in selected exhibitions, giving highlights tours, and facilitating hand-on activities. Thousands of visitors—from local communities, across the nation, and around the world—benefit from docent-led activities each year. The program is designed to offer visitors an exciting and engaging experience that stimulates conversation, and is part of the museum’s mission of empowering people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving, and sharing the complexity of our past.

If you enjoy . . .

  • telling—and listening to—a good story.
  • meeting new people and interacting with diverse audiences.
  • working in a busy and often changing environment.

If you have . . .

  • an interest in American history and culture.
  • strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • reached 18 years of age.

If you can . . .

  • communicate effectively with people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • commit to regular volunteer service.
  • volunteer onsite at the museum.

If you are interested in joining this dynamic, motivated group and providing an indispensable service to thousands of visitors, we welcome your application.

Once accepted, docent candidates must successfully complete all required training for their assigned programs, and be able to commit to regular volunteer service. The Smithsonian Institution is committed to diversity. Women, minorities, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodations are available upon request.

Duties and Responsibilities

A docent’s main duty is to serve visitors to the museum by:

  • interpreting the museum’s collections for visitors through interactive programming.
  • communicating directly with visitors, including the general public, students, special-interest groups, and visitors with disabilities.

Docents must also work in concert with other staff and volunteers of the museum to:

  • facilitate interpretive programs as designed by the Office of Audience Engagement in a manner consistent with program goals and objectives.
  • regularly volunteer at the museum.
  • attend training sessions about facilitation and museum content.
  • participate in  periodic evaluations of programs in a spirit of cooperation.
  • maintain an attitude of flexibility and respect in all relationships with visitors, peers, and staff.
  • function at all times within the guidelines and procedures of the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum, and the Office of Audience Engagement.

To Apply

If you are interested in becoming a Docent at the National Museum of American History, please contact Jocelyn Knauf to learn more information about the application process, and to find out more about when we will be actively recruiting.

NOTE: Acceptance into the program is extended after an interview process and is subject to successful completion of a background investigation.