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It takes the collaboration of many to make a successful symposium. We, the National Docent Symposium Council extend our sincere gratitude to the host site, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, their director, staff, countless volunteers and the marvelous and spectacular chairs; Grace Powell, Patricia Wenzel-Ades, Diane Massicotte and Louise Gauthier. I know we speak for all the docents and guides who were in attendance - Thank you for an unforgettable and rewarding experience!

On behalf of the 2017 NDS Team, we want to thank you for attending the Symposium from October 11-15, 2017 in Montreal. Also a special thank you to our accomplished speakers and presenters.

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

Since we have just returned from the fabulous Montreal symposium, you may think by the title "Currency Exchange" I'm talking about money. This is not about money but it is about value - the value of the National Docent Symposium allowing docents/guides and educators face to face time to exchange feelings, ideas and hopes about their role in the current evolution of our cultural institutions where we volunteer our services. We come to the symposium to find out today's directions and trends.

Through the presentations from docents/guides and keynote speakers representing the United States and Canada, we, as docents, affirm our relevance and importance in creating an inclusive, engaging and audience-centered cultural institution. Stephan Jost, Director, and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario Canada, in his keynote speech opening the symposium acknowledged the value of docents and guides when he said that perhaps they too should be "endowed."

Continue the conversation info@nationaldocents.org

Mina Shea, President, National Docent Symposium Council

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.

For more information and ordering instructions, click this LINK


An A to Z Guide to the Art World
By Kyung An and Jessica Cerasi

"Contemporary Art can be hard work." If you agree with authors Kyung and Cerasi that contemporary art can be difficult to comprehend, this guide may be of interest to you.

In alphabetical order, the authors cover 26 plus aspects of the contemporary art world. You'll learn how curators, gallerists, collectors and critics decide which artists are brought to our attention, determine which work to validate and predict which art is likely to endure over time. The role contemporary art museums, art fairs, biennials and prizes play in the global art market is covered as well. Conceptual, installation and performance art are discussed with examples as well as video and other art created with technology. The challenges of conserving such art is another matter for the authors' consideration.

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.



DAM volunteers are not unlike other volunteers. They give their time freely and what they get back is usually pure gratification for a job well done but a little extra recognition for a job well done is always valued. The DAM's Volunteer Executive Board (VEB) acknowledges DAM volunteer service in many ways and are taking volunteer appreciation to another level. They give the men and women, who provide volunteer service to the DAM, a broader educational opportunity than what is normally available to them through the museum's traditional volunteer training and educational programs.

The VEB hosts special events, called Koffee Klatches (KKs,) that are available to all DAM volunteers about ten times a year. And yes, we do serve coffee and refreshments. The VEB limits attendance to these events and offers them on some Saturdays and always Mondays, since the museum is closed on Monday, empty and ours.

When the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College closed its doors for an approximately three year renovation, they decided to throw a party. A really BIG party. All of the museum's art had been moved to storage for safe keeping, leaving behind an empty museum with lots of space to get creative. The entire community was invited to attend the event. Activities and entertainment began in the afternoon and lasted well into the evening.

Our director, John Stromberg says that "one of the keys to education is making a mess." He and the museum staff saw the empty museum as an opportunity to invite the public to do just that. Over 1600 people came to make art in our now empty gallery space.

Peer review has been an integral part of the Phoenix Art Museum Docent program for over 50 years. Today, with more than 250 active touring and outreach docents, we continue to evaluate and update our review process to ensure full participation and foster best practices. Our interactive coaching style prompted one recently reviewed docent to say, "We always learn from each other. That's what makes the process so rewarding."

From the training of a new docent, to ongoing education and development, docents adhere to a set of standards that allows us to successfully support Phoenix Art Museum's mission to connect people with art. These standards, articulated on a review form along with supporting criteria, serve as a preparation tool for docents as they create and present their tours and community talks. The form is used again as a reference during the docent review, with strengths and areas for refinement noted in writing for the docent's future use. The original practice of numerical "grading" has given way to a system that allows for more discussion and positive reinforcement.

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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