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Or, What it's Like to Have One of the Longest Titles Ever: Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum (NASM)

Being a volunteer at the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, is an honor no matter what role you play. For me, best of all is being a NASM Docent. As a child a family vacation to Washington DC gave me my first exposure to the Smithsonian and the Air and Space Museum. From that time on I knew aviation and the Smithsonian would both be in my life. My military and civilian career path never led to a job with the Smithsonian. However, I did serve in the US Air Force and got my private pilot's license. Then, as soon as I became eligible to retire, I purposely schedule my retirement date for a Friday and started volunteering at the Smithsonian that following Monday.

The Freer Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., re-opened to the public on 14 October after undergoing over 18 months of infrastructure repair. The Freer, along with the Sackler Gallery, comprise the Asian Art Museums of the Smithsonian Institution. The re-opening included a two-day "IlluminAsia" festival. It was 'all hands on deck' for the Freer|Sackler docent corps as the celebratory re-opening brought approximately 50,000 people to events both inside and outside the museum. Docents provided in-gallery interpretation, acted as 'way finders', and supervised activities for both adults and children during the weekend. Activities included an Asian night market on the National Mall, so popular that the food stalls sold out on the first day, requiring the chefs to stay up all night preparing food for the next day.

Sixty-one artist ensembles and community organizations participated during the Opening Weekend.

As a Kramer Grant* first-time attendee to the Montreal 2017 National Docent Symposium, I was energized! I was looking forward to learning a lot during the breakout sessions, museum tours and the keynote breakfast talk and as a 20-year docent at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey, I was also looking forward to the opportunity to share my own docent experiences. And what a great four days of sharing it was!

First, I should start out by saying that 2017 was a great year to experience both Canada and Montreal. Canada celebrated 150 years of confederation, and Montreal celebrated its 375th birthday.

The opening night NDS cocktail party, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art (MMFA) was a celebration of food, music and art. Located less than a 10-minutes' walk from the hotel, the walk to MMFA allowed me to enjoy a variety of terrific public artwork.

Format: Hardback
Pages: 296 pp
Illustrations: 240 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714873510

"Color is stronger than language. It's a subliminal communication," writes artist Louise Bourgeois as quoted in the introduction to Chromaphilia.

This handsome and compelling book uses 240 artworks as case studies to tell the story of ten individual colors or color groups. It explores the history and meaning of each color in art, highlighting fascinating tales of discovery and artistic passion, and offering easily understood explanations of the science and theory behind specific colors. From Isaac Newton's optics to impressionist theory, from the dynamics of Josef Albers to the contemporary metaphysics of Olafur Eliasson, this book shows how color paints our world.

The revised edition of our popular docent handbook - The Docent Handbook 2 - is now available for purchase. This valuable resource for docents, guides and interpreters from museums and cultural institutions of all types in the US and Canada is a stimulating and informative "nuts and bolts" manual.

Read what purchasers have to say about The Docent Handbook 2

For more information and ordering instructions, click this LINK

Find PowerPoint Presentations and Handouts at the Symposia menu tab above or  click here

Hope without Hype

Yellowstone Art Museum and Docent Host Alzheimer's Symposium 

A two-day symposium was held at the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Association, Montana Chapter.

The purpose was to bring the health care providers, family members and artists together to widen their understanding of Alzheimer's and related dementias and importantly the connections between the science and art. One of the hardest parts of dementia is communication. Art is one way for someone to communicate their feelings and tell their story when they have lost many other ways of communicating.

Like many art museums that serve school-age visitors, the Walters Art Museum seeks to make connections between our objects and the subjects students study in the classroom. This includes language arts, social studies, and art, but also math and science. The goals of our "Mathematical Masterpieces" tour are to help students recognize the presence and importance of math in the visual arts, understand how people in different cultures and at different times used math in creating works of art. You don't have to be a mathematician, or even very comfortable with math, to use the activities and approaches of this tour to help students – and docents – see even familiar works of art in a different way.

If you are looking for an art related read for your book club, you'll find book reviews by clicking this LINK Movie suggestions are here too. 

Recommended websites and blogs are found under Resources, click this LINK to learn more.

Share your book and movie recommendations and online favorites by email to info@nationaldocents.org 

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