Becoming a docent has opened multiple doors of opportunity and joy for me that cannot be overrated! Not only am I surrounded with interesting docent colleagues from all walks of life, I am continually nourished with rich intellectual challenges that feed my desire to learn and grow. Sharing art with others has given me the opportunity to give back to our community while feeding my soul in ways that I had never previously anticipated. What an honor it is to share stimulating conversations about culture and history with Museum guests of all ages from differing backgrounds and geographic locations. There is a special exchange of inspiration that occurs during audience engagement when discussing all things art, that creates in me a desire to be a better person and encourages me to strive to excel beyond original expectations. I am most appreciative to have the chance to serve the Phoenix Art Museum and its expanding community in this capacity.
My Connection to NDSC
I first learned about the National Docent Symposium in 2006 when Phoenix Art Museum Docents had the honor of hosting NDS 2007. Through the enthusiasm that grew during the coming months, I began to understand the importance of the NDS relishing the idea of sharing and absorbing docent insights with fellow colleagues from around the country. I have currently attended four National Docent Symposia including the 2013 San Francisco NDS serving as a Docent representative, and the 2017 NDS in Montreal while serving as Docent president. Most recently I attended the NDS 2019 in Washington DC becoming one of two Western Regional Directors on the NDS Council. I am elated to be a part of this national team. As I become more acquainted with the breadth and scope of the NDS mission, I will look forward to sharing ideas and information with the NDS community at large.
As a litigation attorney, I realized the power of storytelling to persuade and enlighten. I have also loved visiting great museums, including the Walters, for many years, and listening to the stories behind the objects and the collections. Now as a docent, I can combine my love of the art and objects in the Walters Art Museum with my enjoyment of telling stories and providing context for students and adult visitors. I particularly enjoy researching and developing new tours and new themes to energize the permanent collection and entice visitors to return again and again to the Museum.
My Connection with the NDSC
I attended my first Symposium in 2017 as a presenter in one of the breakout sessions, highlighting a new school tour, Ancient Engineers to Modern Innovations. In the course of preparing for the presentation, I learned more about the work of the Council and became very eager to attend the symposium in Montreal. I was not disappointed, returning from the symposium full of new ideas and energy. I was elected to the Council as Director-at-Large, concentrating on increasing the visibility of the NDSC via its website. From 2022 - 2024, I will be filling the Regional position for the Mid-Atlantic region. I am excited to share my enthusiasm with as many other docents as possible.
Being a docent is a perfect fit for me because I love continually learning and I adore having conversations about art. I think art is a great equalizer, because no matter what we see, we are always right. And through sharing art experiences, people can connect with one another and learn about cultures, identities and other points of view.
Art museums have always been my happy place and I enjoy sharing the enrichment art can bring to our lives. My favorite moments are when I see visitors connecting with art, relating it to their life experiences, and perhaps having an “aha” moment. I have met many wonderful docents, art educators, and employees at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and love the way we learn better techniques from each other. I imitate other docents and steal their best ideas shamelessly. I also love the camaraderie of our docent corps, and I am fulfilled by the connections we make with other institutions, like schools, museums, nursing homes and community groups.
In addition to art, my other interests are my family, friends, dogs, cooking, eating and travel.
My connection to the NDSC
I attended my first docent symposium in 2019 in Washington DC and I was “hooked”. I loved meeting docents from all over and sharing ideas, practices and experiences with them. The workshops were eye-opening, the speakers and tours were great, and I returned to my own museum with new ideas and a renewed excitement. I have just returned from my second symposium in Kansas City in 2022. Again, I was wowed and invigorated.
I am very excited to serve as a Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region along with Sheila Vidmar, and I can’t wait to work with the esteemed members of the Council as we develop educational and enrichment activities for docents across North America. I look forward to spreading the word about the amazing docent opportunity of attending a symposium. The networking alone is worth the price of admission, but when you throw in the education from the workshops and speakers, and the museum tours, attendance becomes impossible to resist!
After my retirement from the federal government, I realized my health care background could be added to a longstanding interest in art museums as public spaces for education, leisure, and well-being. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) had been a place of anonymous refuge for me during the intensity of graduate school. So, in 2014, I became a volunteer art guide to learn art history, to give adult tours, and to promote broad conversation about the value of art objects in our world today. Now, I am participating in a general post-pandemic re-engagement with museum visitors. I have served as Secretary for the Executive Board of the Associates, the museum's largest and oldest volunteer organization. Recently, I co-chaired the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Working Group for the Associates' new strategic plan, effective 2023. I am a member of the MFA Board of Advisors and I serve on the Board’s Steering Committee. I live in Boston and I have three adult children, two of whom live locally. My oldest son lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. I am fortunate to have six grandchildren.
My Connection to the NDSC
I learned about NDSC during my first year of art guide training in 2014, however, I did not attend my first Symposium until Kansas City in 2022. From observations and conversations, I believe the Council is a place where information and support can be found not only when conflicts need attention, but it is also a place for celebration when new perspectives are realized. I intend to hold onto the enthusiasm, commitment and curiosity that I found at the Symposium in order to share it with those who may be disheartened by an unsettled and changing museum environment. I look forward to building this community.
In the fall of 1996, while working in sales and marketing in the Toronto (Canada) financial community I joined the Weekend/Evening Docent Program at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Upon retirement in 2000, I increased my volunteer commitment and joined the AGO day School Touring group while also taking on a leadership role with the Weekend/Evening Docents. Over the years I have taken on and enjoyed increasing responsibilities in the AGO volunteer community, including Communications editor and the organization and chair of the AGO Volunteer Alumni Program, culminating with my election as Volunteer President 2016 - 2019. In the past I have also enjoyed and gained invaluable experience by volunteering at other Toronto organizations including Casey House, ART Toronto and REENA. I enjoy and continue to expand my horizons through regular world travel.
My Connection with the NDSC
As a committee chair in the planning and implementation of the Toronto 2009 National Docent Symposium I gained insights into the NDS symposium challenges. I have enjoyed past NDS events in Boston, Phoenix and Montreal where I was elected to the NDSC as one of the two representatives for Canada East. I currently serve on the Editorial Board of the Council's Communications Committee as well. I believe working with volunteer organizations such as NDS is a means to support all volunteer Docent/Guides in what they do best, "encouraging a love of learning"
I have been a docent at the Saint Louis Art Museum since 2014, and I am a past chair of its docent board. I am currently the vice president of the Docent Council of Metropolitan St. Louis. I have written and published, and I now serve as a Peer Reviewer, for the Journal of Museum Education. I have completed numerous training courses in facilitation and coaching of the Visual Thinking Strategies method of engagement, and I have have incorporated these and related methods into my practice. I have an enthusiastic love of art and learning, and it is a great joy for me to share these passions with and learn from our Museum visitors, my docent communities, Museum staff and community partners
Connection to the NDSC
I am grateful to my fellow docents and Museum staff at the Saint Louis Art Museum, particularly to Amanda Thompson Rundahl, Director of Learning and Engagnement, to Ann Burroughs, Head of Engagement and Interpretation, and to the late Gin Wachter, past president and advisor to the NDSC for more than 20 years, for encouraging me to attend and present a workshop at the 2019 and 2022 National Docent Symposia in Washington, DC and Kansas City, Missouri. I am proud to represent the Midwest Region of the National Docent Symposium Council in promoting the continuous improvement and enrichment of docent practices and communication.
Upon retiring from a long and fulfilling career as an RN and nurse educator I was looking forward to changing my focus to place greater emphasis on the arts. The opportunity to become a docent at San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) provided me with an ideal approach to achieving my goals. I have now been a docent for six years. What could be more fun than spending time interacting with the art/artifacts/history of our world through the lens of those who visit this great encyclopedic museum. With each tour I get to share the experience of exploring the beauty and history of the museum’s collections, while relating those objects to concepts of life, science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Every tour is a new experience during which I learn right along with my tour groups.
My Connection with the NDSC
I learned about the NDSC while interviewing fellow docents who had attended the symposium in Cincinnati for our SAMA Docent Association Newsletter. Their enthusiasm was infectious. They learned so much in the breakout sessions, shared great stories of visiting museums in the area, and of sharing the experience with other docents. Those stories sparked my interest in the NDSC and the opportunities to become involved. Being on the council means that I can share my knowledge and skills while interacting with and learning from other docents who represent the disparate museums in our region and all across this country.
I’m a former employment attorney and retirement gave me the ability to realize my dream of spending more time in art museums and providing context to visitors. I completed a two year training program at the San Diego Museum of Art in 2019 and currently head the Education Committee where I plan and present continuing education programs to our docent team.
My Connection with the NDSC
In 2022, I attended my first symposium in Kansas City and was struck by the energy and strong sense of community that was so evident over the course of the four day conference. The break out sessions gave me invaluable information about best practices to share with my colleagues in San Diego and I wanted to be a part of the national organization in order to help expand its reach and extend the symposium experience to a broader docent audience. I will always be grateful to David Winton at the Palm Springs Art Museum for encouraging me to become active in the NDSC.
In fall of 2013, after careers in publishing and tech marketing, I joined the docent training program at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford. From 2014 to 2018, I devoted significant time to touring at the Cantor and to being part of the Docent Steering Committee (2014-present). In 2018, I joined the training program at the Fine Arts Museums of SF (de Young and Legion of Honor Museums), completing the training program in late 2019, touring the collection throughout the training. In 2020-21, as president of the Cantor Docents, I led the docents through the first year of the pandemic, creating new virtual tours, and doing my best to keep the docents engaged. I am co-chair of the National Docent Committee at FAMSF and also serve on their Docent Council (2021-present). In addition, I’m a San Mateo County Arts Commissioner, where I focus on grant making and public art within our county.
My Connection with the NDSC:
I attended my first Symposium in 2019, representing the Cantor Arts Center. The experience of being in a room with so many like-minded people and attending breakout sessions was exhilarating. I took that enthusiasm home and began to work on the NDS Committee at FAMSF, where we act as the conduit of museum information to the docents and the museums. I became convinced we needed to take those conversations and discussions we had at the Symposium out to a broader audience and to keep the information and conversation flowing between Symposiums. I am excited to work with the other committee members to do just that.
I’ve been a new docent twice, once as a younger woman and many years later as one determined to add art training and sharing experiences to my life once again. As a former English teacher and an advocate for early childhood education I lacked formal art history studies; however, I now have received over 20 years of docent experience. Training and traveling have given me a tremendous appreciation of the universal need to express life through art. I enjoy being part of a group dedicated to exploring art with others.
My Connection to NDS
As a Head Docent I attended my first Symposium in Washington D.C. in 2019 and was amazed to find how many new ideas an “experienced” docent could encounter! One idea resulted in our docents creating a database of DMA objects’ descriptions, study references and discussion topics they suggested. The database is a successful and ongoing project begun in Covid shutdown. Covid also gave docent groups a chance to meet across the country by using often newfound skills on the internet, and finally to see each other at the Kansas City Symposium.
I am so grateful to be a part of this giving organization