Since the first National Docent Symposium in 1981, the National Docent Symposium Council has served as a resource and forum to promote docent education and the exchange of ideas. Join us as we celebrate our 40th anniversary with a series of articles discussing our past, present and future!
Interview by Shelagh Barrington, Gallery Guide, Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto, Canada; NDSC Regional Director, Canada (May 2022)
As part of NDSC’s 40th anniversary Ruby Celebration series, I have been interviewing past members of the NDS Council. Let me introduce you to Renee Reese. Renee first trained as a “Picture Lady” in 1984 and became interested in art education. She has served in three different museums and currently serves as a docent at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a member of the Council, she agreed to be the first coordinator for this website, creating the role and helping to establish the website as one forum for docent education. Renee has observed many changes in museum philosophy and technology that affect docents. I discussed with Renee the need for docents to adapt and change in order to remain relevant.
Interview by Shelagh Barrington, Gallery Guide, Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto, Canada; NDSC Regional Director, Canada (February 2022)
As part of NDSC’s 40th anniversary Ruby Celebration series, I interviewed past members of the NDS Council. Doug McTavish became a docent at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington in 1997. In 2011, he agreed to serve as a Regional Director for the NDSC’s Western Region. Doug described himself as someone on a journey of exploration; he saw his role as a docent sharing new facts, new ideas, and new possibilities with other curious travelers. His role at the Burke has changed somewhat over the years, illustrating his belief in the need to “adapt or become irrelevant.” I spoke to Doug about his efforts on behalf of NDS during his time on the Council, and the changes he has seen in Docent/Guide practices at his museum.
Kay Summers, Docent, The High Museum, Atlanta, GA
I was one of the planning chairs for the 1993 National Docent Symposium, hosted by the docents of the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. Planning took place over 6 years. There are so many details in planning for such an event!
Interview by Shelagh Barrington, Gallery Guide, Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto, Canada; NDSC Regional Director, Canada
Anne Stellmon considers service to the community part of her DNA. When circumstances led her to settle in Denver, Colorado, she took the opportunity to become a docent at the Denver Museum of Art in 2003. In 2009, she attended the National Docent Symposium in Toronto, Canada, where she saw the dynamic relationships between docents/guides created by the Symposium. She was selected as a Regional Director for the NDS Council, and in 2015 was elected President of the Council. Following her term of office, Anne continues to support the activities of the Council. She plans to attend the Symposium in Kansas City in 2022.
In the fall of 2021, after 18 months of Covid-related disruptions in the museum world, I talked to Anne to discuss the changes she is experiencing at the Denver Art Museum (“DAM”).
Cheryl Bancroft, Docent, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (January 2022)
I have been asked to write my Reflections, probably because I have been a docent for over 40 years! I graduated from the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums Docent training Class of 1979-81. I do tours at both the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor. When I applied, I was asked by my docent interviewer why I wanted to be a docent. I cheekily replied “to get out of the house.” At age 39, I had a one year old and two older children and was ready to talk about subjects other than homework, feeding schedules and diapers. I had been a college English teacher and thought talking about Art rather than Literature would be just fine. This has turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made and I learned to love my computer and the wide, wide web!