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Museum Volunteer Opportunities

The Dumbarton Oaks Museum has a small, vibrant, and dedicated corps of volunteers. Museum volunteers serve as visitor service assistants or as docents trained to provide tours of the museum and garden.

Serving as a volunteer service assistant or as a docent is contingent on securing a favorable background report. 

If you have any questions, please contact Laura Symcak, docent program coordinator, at 202-339-6409 or .

Visitor Service Assistants

Visitor service assistants welcome visitors to Dumbarton Oaks, recommend things to see and do within the museum, and answer general questions about the collection, special exhibitions, and museum facilities.

Visitor service assistants must have excellent communication skills and a warm, outgoing, and professional demeanor. Basic computer skills and internet access for correspondence, training, and scheduling are necessary.

Prospective volunteers attend a brief orientation and training program, which introduces them to the museum’s collections, policies, and programs. Volunteer service assistants commit to serving one three-hour shift each week on a fixed day (Tuesday through Sunday) for at least one year.

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Docents

Docents are formally trained to give tours of the museum and the gardens to both students and adults. Docents receive training on the history and mission of Dumbarton Oaks, the museum’s permanent collections, and the design of the gardens. Being a docent is a rewarding experience that requires a high degree of motivation and dedication.

No prior background in art history or garden design is required. Applicants to the docent program need to have have a professional demeanor and be comfortable communicating with children, students, and adults. Basic computer skills and internet access for correspondence, training, and scheduling are necessary.

All accepted applicants must attend training one day a week starting in February and running through June. Training includes lectures by museum educators, curators, and faculty on the museum’s collection, the gardens, and touring techniques. After completing the initial training program, mandatory ongoing training occurs once a month. Docents are responsible for researching and preparing their tours. Docents commit to serving one three-hour shift each week on a fixed day (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday) for at least two years.