Conservation Secrets: Integrating Science into an Art Museum Tour

Conservation Secrets, an interactive school tour that explores the science behind the care and study of artworks, challenged our docents with unfamiliar topics and techniques. Training focused on improving the tour experience through peer modeling, role-play, and the use of technology. This presentation will stimulate ideas for preparing docents to give multidisciplinary tours.

Presenters: Rebecca Lawson, Docent President and webmaster; John Shields, Manager of Docent and Internship Programs

Shared Responsibility: Docents and Museum Staff Cooperate in Building a Successful Docent Training Program

At the San Diego Museum of Art, training for docents is a continuous two-year program with entry points every September and January. Presenters will educate conference participants on how to create knowledgeable and committed docents through a training program that draws on the shared responsibilities and cooperation of docents and museum staff members in education, curatorial, exhibition and design, registration, and visitor services departments. Our Docent Training Handbook and sample forms—including applications, interview rubrics, scoring metrics, course syllabi, reports, hands-on gallery activities, and performance evaluations—will be provided.

Presenters: Terry Holt, docent (ten years) and Docent Training Chair; Allie Arnell, docent (two years) and Trainer in the Docent Training Program; Ruth Broudy, Manager of Docent Programs and Staff Leader of Docent Training

Designing a Docent Training Program for the 21st Century Museum Visitor

Workshopparticipants learned how the recent FAMSF docent training program was designed, planned, and conducted by the Docent Council. Examples of innovative touring strategies were described and demonstrated, including interactive gallery talks through the de Young's permanent collection using “slow” looking, questions, and hooks to engage the visitor. An online blog was used during training to disseminate information to all participants, from docent trainees to outside lecturers.

R&R: Review and Recommendation, Not Rest and Relaxation! An Innovative Docent Evaluation Program

The R&R Group, a combination of experienced docent Gallery Instructors (GIs) and Education Department staff, collaborated to develop and implement an improved tour-evaluation process. The end result has been a vastly strengthened spirit of collaboration among GIs and between the GIs and the staff, as well as the development of a best practices checklist, which is continually enhanced. We will provide details on how the R&R program was organized and describe the training that is given to each docent on the R&R team. The session will include group participation and role-playing in the observation of a tour and dealing with challenging situations that arise in the review process.

Presenters: Josene SteinbergandSarah Smith, Gallery Instructors (eighteen years; lead school group tours for second- through twelfth-grade students); Willamarie Moore, Head of School Programs and Teacher Resources

Docent Training in the New Millennium: It's Not the Big Bang Theory

Docents and museum staff from the Asian Art Museum will demonstrate and describe the museum's new approach to training, discussing both the significant amount of information needed to tour the collection (cultural, religious, historical, and, of course, information about the art itself) and the new focus on interactive touring techniques. Attendees will engage in an interactive exercise using one of these touring techniques with an artwork from the Asian, view a video highlighting some of the tools and techniques used for training, discuss what has worked and what has not, share ideas about what future training might include, and carry away resources that they may be able to used in their future training programs.

Presenters: Susan McCabe, docent (nine years) and Docent Chair for the current Docent Training Class; Bob Oaks, docent (six years) and Co-chair of the new Docent Training Program; Linda Lei, Co-chair of the Docent Training Program; Deborah Clearwaters, Director of Education and Public Programs (oversees the development of educational materials and programs about Asian art and culture for diverse audiences)

Continuing Education for Docents, by Docents

This breakout session will describe how the Heard Museum's small education department uses and works with its volunteer docent corps, Las Guias, to achieve its mission to educate visitors about the native cultures and art of the people of the Southwest. The presentation will detail two dynamic programs—continuing education and New Exhibit Training—noting how these initiatives work to ensure that the docents' message to visitors fits with the Heard Museum's continuing effort to share the importance of American Indian cultures and art. Participants will learn how the Heard's methods— such as its innovative, peer-led New Exhibit Training Program, which complements and supplements curator and staff training—can work at their institutions.

Presenters: Jaclyn Roessel, Director of Education; Linda Hefter, docent (fifteen years), co-chair New Exhibit Training Committee

Crafting the Complex Tour: Connecting Tour Groups with Diverse Collections

Continuum of Cultural Care: Denver Art Museum Programs for Aging Boomers

Multiple programs at the Denver Art Museum grew out of a small, docent-initiated program for downtown workers. This presentation will focus on 1) Nooners: thirty-minute, single-topic tours; 2) Multi-Session Programs for Lifelong Learners: customized opportunities developed by docents and staff working together; 3) Dreams for the Future: a lively exchange of ideas between presenters and participants; and 4) Why docents love these programs!

Presenters: Marty Corren, docent (eight years) and Co-chair of the Nooner Program; Benita Goltermann, docent (over thirty years); Carol Hamilton, docent (eight years) and Co-chair of the Nooner Program; Ann Brennan Thomas, docent (eighteen years)

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