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Things get solved if you get involved. Apply to become a docent at the NMAAHC.


Things get solved if you get involved! Apply to become a docent at the National Museum of African American History and Culture! Docents are education facilitators who provide group learning experiences in the form of museum tours, demonstrations, or instruction in special activity areas. They are an essential link between the public and the Museum.


Docents engage visitors to the museum by interpreting the Museum's collections and communicating directly with visitors, including the general public, special-interest groups, VIPs, and people with diverse learning style and abilities. Docents must also work in concert with staff and volunteers of the Museum to:

  • Present interpretive programs as designed by the Education Department's Office of Audience Engagement in a manner consistent with the tour program goals and objectives
  • Implement and practice effective teaching strategies in a museum setting, that includes discussion, storytelling, verbal description, and working with teaching objects
  • Attend additional in-service and volunteer enrichment training sessions offered throughout the year
  • Accept periodic evaluation of tours in a spirit of cooperation
  • Maintain an attitude of flexibility and respect in relationships with peers and staff
  • Function, always, within the guidelines and procedures of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of African American History and Culture


  • Volunteers should have an interest in American history and culture and a thirst for knowledge and lifelong learning
  • Volunteers must have excellent speaking and communication skills and be active listeners
  • Volunteers must enjoy speaking to a variety of visitors and groups of all sizes
  • Volunteers must remain calm when faced with the unanticipated and think quickly on their feet
  • Volunteers must be comfortable using and/or receiving training on online meeting and learning platforms
  • Retired educators, college students, public and community historians are welcomed
  • Fluency in American Sign Language and other second languages are helpful but not required
  • Interpretation and/or experience conducting tours is a bonus
  • Ability to utilize computers, iPads, and other technology to assist visitors


  • A background check for prospective volunteers is required
  • Volunteer must be 18 years of age or older
  • Complete in-person and online New Docent Orientation and Volunteer Training
  • *Please note, that we do not offer parking*


  • Docents-in-Training complete a rigorous two-semester course introducing African American history and the museum's collections as well as teaching and touring techniques for various museum audiences. Weekly assignments include readings and independent study and activity in the museum's galleries.
  • Accepted applicants must be available for and attend a combination of both in person orientation and virtual training classes that are specific to this volunteer position
  • Trainees are expected to shadow tours outside of class
  • Accepted applicants must successfully complete the required training course(s), homework assignments, and tour evaluation.
  • New docent orientation begins fall 2023


  • Upon successful completion of the training course, a minimum commitment of 2 years of service is expected
  • Docents volunteer 2 shifts (averaging 6 -10 hours) per month.
  • Daily Volunteer shifts are:Tuesday - Sunday (9:45am - 12:45pm andSunday - Monday (12:45pm - 3:45pm)
  • Filling morning and afternoon weekend shifts plus weekday afternoon shifts is a high priority for the museum.


National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave NW

Washington, DC 20560



The application deadline is August 1, 2023.

  1. Click the Sign-up button below.
  2. Next upload to your application a resume/CV, and a cover letter which addresses the following items:
  • Professional backgroundandother volunteer experience
  • List any special skills (non-English languages, etc.) or background that you feel you will bring to the program.
  • Include a statement onwhy you wish to become a Docent at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
  • Include your preferred volunteer shift(s):Daily volunteer shifts areTuesday - Sunday (9:45am - 12:45pm) andSunday - Monday (12:45pm - 3:45pm)

If you are an existing volunteer at NMAAHC or elsewhere at the Smithsonian and you have a volunteer account already set up in the Volunteer Management System (Vsys), to apply you must

1. Log into Vsys

2. Click here to open up a new web browser

3. Select the Sign-up button

Unfortunately, due to the large number of applications we receive, only those selected to participate in the program will be contacted.

Location: Washington, DC.NMAAHC: African American History & Culture