Traveling Docents

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Mimi Hassett, Docent,  Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA (March 2020) 

Murals can tell many stories about a location and can help educate a visitor regarding the area. I found a few on a recent trip to Ecuador that displayed the country’s culture and bountiful assets. The murals in this article were discovered in public areas and illustrate a local market scene, the national industry of weaving, the use of parks, and neighborhood “happenings.” Here are my favorites, their stories, and the cities they are located in.

Adele Visaggio, Docent, Salvador Dali Museum (St. Petersburg, FL) (Fall 2019)

When I think of Kenya and Tanzania, the image of Mount Kilimanjaro immediately arises. This is certainly because the first time I was ever exposed to Africa was through the Ernest Hemingway short story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro” when I was six years old. His writing was simple and an easy read, although I did miss all the subtle nuances for which Hemingway is noted. From the moment I began to read the story, I knew that one day I had to travel to East Africa where Kenya and Tanzania straddle either side of this mountain. Another draw to these lands came while in my first year at the University of Michigan when I took a course in Physical Anthropology and learned about the Leakeys' discoveries in what is now Tanzania. I was in awe of the fact that this was where they found our earliest humanoid ancestors. Although this theory has since been disproven (these humanoids were only offshoots) the discovery was still significant. When I started planning my trip nearly 60 years later, I also learned that these countries share the Serengeti, a vast grassland filled with beautiful wildlife and flora. I was ready and eager to explore!

Holland – 2019 (9 minutes) -- Join Sarah Young, Docent, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, on a journey to the Holland provinces of The Netherlands with an immersion into the art of the "Old Masters" and the effects of the Dutch Golden Age today –


David Winton, Docent, Palm Springs Museum of Art (Fall 2019)

What do Hudson and Catskill, and some of the smaller cities and towns in the states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont have in common?

The northeastern states are a refreshing antidote to spending the summer in triple-digit heat in Palm Springs, California. Their small cities, towns, and villages are home to some of the most unusual and quaint Gilded-Age houses and gardens, museums and National Historical Sites.

Amsterdam article tulips with bike

Luanne Sanders Andreotti, Docent Trainee, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Spring 2019)

It was one of those If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium brand of heavily-packed, whirlwind adventures. Here are a few memories of an extraordinary week which was organized by a docent* who provided doting concierge service for our art-hungry pack of veteran docents and friends.

We arrived on a cool Monday morning still groggy at the boutique Ink Hotel in the Red Light District. We headed immediately out on a walking tour of the provocative district alleyways replete with crafted chocolate cafés, caricature condom shops (Comdomerie) and flashes of a few intriguing women inside glass cubicles. We were informed that the neighborhood is undergoing gentrifying, but the women would remain. Later, we savored our first private dinner as a group. We have to get up at what time in the morning?!?

We awoke quite early to a fabulous hotel breakfast and set out on foot to feast our eyes all day on a staggering collection of masterpieces at the Rijksmuseum: Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, and Frans Hals’ The Wedding Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen, just to name a few.

Minnesota Museum of American Art

                                            Minnesota Museum of American Art

Sue Hamburge, Docent, Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) (March, 2019)

Should you find yourself traveling to Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, you won’t lack opportunities to indulge your love of the art in each city. Minneapolis is the home of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), Walker Art Center, and American Swedish Institute to name a few. St. Paul is the home of the ‘new-old’ Minnesota Museum of American Art.

My fellow docents at Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) and I visited the new museum shortly after its re-opening in the fall of 2018. To the delight of all Twin Cities art lovers, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, or the M, as the museum is now known, is a worthy stop on any Twin Cities art itinerary. Over 117 years old, formerly located in 13 different places, under 7 different names, the M is now located on the first floor of downtown St. Paul’s historic Pioneer Endicott building.

Susan Wright, Docent, Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth (January 2019)

On a sun-struck September morning I arrived in Malta, a port-of-call on my Mediterranean cruise. The harbor wall, formed out of prehistoric coralline limestone rose before me, set ablaze by the sun. The dazzling sight of Valletta, the capital city, filled me with delight.

Helen Broadus, Docent, National Museum of African Art (NMAfA), Washington, DC. (November 2018)

In September 2017, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Nigeria, West Africa for the dedication ceremony of Chief S.O. Alonge’s photographic exhibition at the National Museum of Benin City.

While in Nigeria and prior to the Benin City ceremony, I had the opportunity to travel around the country. In Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, I visited the National Museum. At the museum’s entrance is Anyanwu, The Awakening, a bronze sculpture by Ben Enwonwu. The museum contains many pieces of Nigerian art, mostly pieces of older statues and carvings, remarkable for their variety and quality. I saw the Dynasty and Divinity Exhibition featuring “Ife in Ancient Nigeria” as well as Nigeria’s “Arts in Life Cycle”.

David Winton, Docent Palm Springs Museum of Art, NDSC Regional Director  (October 2018)

Santa Fe, New Mexico is beautiful in any month of the year, but in August it is truly magical. Whether you are an Opera lover, a fan of chamber music, a collector of Native American art and jewelry, a museum wonk, or just here for the green hatch chili stew and sopaipillas, Santa Fe has it all and then some.



Rina Flatau, Emerson Museum of Art, Syracuse NY (October 2018)

I first heard about the Venice Biennale several years ago from a fellow docent, but my first attendance was at the 2017 Biennale. It hooked me! From the website I learned that the event is an international art exhibition begun in 1895 which runs every other year. On off years the Venice Biennale site hosts Music, Dance, Cinema and Architecture. The neighborhoods of the Giardani and the Arsenale on an adjacent island provide the venues. The Giardani park is home to 29 permanent country pavilions built to house their contributions, and at the Arsenale a massive central pavillion is the setting for several other countries’ exhibitions. Also, some countries, without a pavilion, chose to exhibit in unique settings throughout Venice.

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