The very first Docent Exchange was held on March 26, 1990 by The Muscarelle Museum of Art. The one-day workshop entitled, Workshop for Docents – How People Learn, was hosted by docent Mary Hoffman. Ninety-six docents and six museums participated in the workshop. These six museums decided to continue the work of The Muscarelle Museum of Art and Docent Mary Hoffman by forming docent-run steering committees from each museum to plan and host future Exchanges. Every two years a member museum is required to plan and host an Exchange to address themes and issues in museum pedagogy. Today, Docents and Staff from The Muscarelle Museum of Art, The Chrysler Museum of Art, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Fralin Museum of Art at The University of Virginia, and The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, continue to exchange ideas.

Mission Statement

The Virginia Docent Exchange strives to bring together docents from art museum and art centers in Virginia to exchange ideas, methods, and training practices with fellow docents.
To strengthen interpretational skills, to keep current with new approaches to education in the gallery and classroom, and to strengthen leadership skills. To encourage involvement in docent activities and opportunities inherent in the docent exchange and to promote professionalism of docents in general. And to enhance communication among Virginia’s art museums and art centers.


March 26, 1990 The Muscarelle Museum of Art                                                                        Theme: “Workshop for Docents – How People Learn.”

March 15-16, 1992 Chrysler Museum of Art
A panel: “Bias in Looking at Art”

March 20-21, 1994 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Theme: “It’s the Docent Thing to Do”

March 11-12, 1996 Bayley Museum of Art – University of Virginia
Theme: “Eye to I”

March 8-9, 1998 Maier Museum of Art (Randolph-Macon Women’s College)
Theme: “Cultural Diversity: Examining Prejudices by Looking at American Art”

March 4-5, 2001 Muscarelle Museum of Art
Theme: “Docents, Educators, Explorers? Wearing Many Hats”

April 13-14, 2003 Chrysler Museum of Art
Theme: “Riding the Waves of Change: Docents in the 21st Century”

March 7-8, 2005 University of Virginia Art Museum (formerly Bayley Museum of Art)
Theme: “Making Meaning ­– from the Perspective of the Artist, Docent and Visitor”

May 6-7, 2007 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Theme: “Eyes of Discovery: Interpreting Art in the 21st Century”

May 31-June1, 2009 Maier Museum of Art, Randolph College
Theme: “Opening Doors”

May 22-23, 2011 Muscarelle Museum of Art
Theme: “Parallels in Art and Life

March 29-30, 2015 Chrysler Museum of Art                                                                           Theme: “The Art of the New”

April 1-2, 2017 The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA                                                                 Theme:  “Whose Museum Is It?”