Interactive Videoconferences: Gateway to a Larger Museum AudienceTuesday, 21 February 2012 18:09
National Docent Symposium 2011
Currents in Museum Education: Gateway to the Best
St. Louis Art Museum
October 2-5, 2011
Proposal for Breakout Session
Interactive Videoconferences: Gateway to a Larger Museum Audience
Phoebe Kline, Smithsonian American Art Museum docent
Carol Wilson, Assistant Chair of Education, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Qualifications for presenters
Phoebe Kline has been a docent at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for 37 years. She has served on the Docent Advisory Committee in numerous capacities, including Docent Chair and Technology/Distance Learning Chair, and was a pioneer in the Museum’s videoconferencing efforts.
Carol Wilson, the Assistant Chair of Education at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, has been a museum educator for 12 years and has trained docents to present in-gallery student tours and videoconference programs.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has been conducting videoconference tours with audiences across the country for ten years. When our Museum closed for renovation in 2000, docents were unable to offer gallery tours for 6.5 years. In the interim, docents began offering interactive videoconferences with students around the country. The tours, which are thematic and support curriculum goals, enrich classroom study for students who do not have the opportunity to come to the Museum. We have extended the opportunity to include presentations to libraries, community centers, and retirement homes, introducing life-long learners to our collection. Conducted from a well-equipped media studio, these tours take advantage of the latest advancements in videoconferencing, such as using “green-screen” technology, to give our virtual visitors an interactive trip to the Smithsonian from the comfort of their home town.
Description of how the proposal capitalizes on the role of a docent:
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is one of few (if not only) museums to use docents to conduct interactive videoconference tours with students, as most museums use education staff. The docents have taken extended training and are able to successfully navigate both the interpretive and technological aspects of conducting videoconferences. They sometimes work in pairs, and mentor fellow docents who are learning to the videoconferencing equipment. Conducting videoconferences extends the role of a docent beyond the museum walls, as they are able to engage with students who are unable to come to the Museum and who may have no access to any museum in their local community. It is also an opportunity for docents to expand their image selection beyond what is hanging on the gallery walls, as they have access to all digitized works in our collection to discuss with students.
Description of materials to be distributed:
- American Art brochure
- Videoconference information sheet