What DMA Docents Know About Art Could Fill a Database

DMA composite photo

Carol Resnick, Docent, Dallas Museum of Art (Spring 2021)

In the fall of 2019, Head Docents Jode Johnson and Kristin McCollum of the Dallas Museum of Art held a docent-only meeting discussing ways to improve the program. From this meeting came the idea of a database of information on objects in the Museum using Google Docs. The DMA is an encyclopedic museum housing over 25,000 objects, and docents are expected to be able to give tours of all galleries and exhibitions. The head docents realized their best resource for the database was the docents themselves, some who have toured at the Museum for over 30 years. A database committee was created to determine which of the Museum’s many pieces they would begin with. Then they proceeded to develop a format to encourage consistency with the entries, and finally they came up with a plan as to how they would structure the rollout. Over 100 pieces were selected, and a template was provided for the docents to follow. 

On March 9th, 2020, the database idea was introduced to the rest of the docents and the sign up went out. The response was excitement and delight that this opportunity was now available. As we are all aware, the pandemic began shortly after and the Museum was closed for tours. The committee was grateful to have launched the project before the doors closed, and the docents began working hard and turning in submissions. After each docent completed his/her submission, the word document was sent by e-mail to the committee with pictures as attachments. The committee then proceeded to edit and proofread it before sending it to the database.

On September 8th, 2020, the database was officially made live and presented to the DMA docents. As of today, there are over 100 entries. It is meant to be used as a living database, meaning that updates and changes can be made by the committee at any time to ensure that the information is up to date and correct. The committee developed the following disclaimer to be used at the end of each entry to keep the database secure within the DMA docent community and to stress that it is amendable: “As scholarship continues to evolve and grow, please be diligent in your research and information. This material is to be viewed by DMA docents only”.

All the docents look forward to using this useful information for planning their future tours, whether it be virtual or in person. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact Carol Resnick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..