Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Acquires Artwork by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
November 16, 2015
A Conversation with Evan Penny
November 24, 2015
Show all

Volunteer report on the National Docent Symposium

Crystal Bridges volunteer Lowell Collins and Phyllis Jones at the 21015 National Docent Symposium

Here’s a bit of information I’ll bet you didn’t know:  there is an National Docent organization composed of two delegates for each of the six regions established by the American Alliance of Museums, as well as the two Canadian regions. Every two years the organization holds a National Docent Symposium, and this year’s event took place September 17 through 20 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Crystal Bridges volunteers and Phyllis Jones attended, and in today’s post, Nowell offers this report:

Crystal Bridges volunteer Lowell Collins and Phyllis Jones at the 21015 National Docent Symposium

Crystal Bridges volunteer Lowell Collins and Phyllis Jones at the 21015 National Docent Symposium

Phyllis Jones and I had the opportunity to represent Crystal Bridges at the National Docent Symposium in Cincinnati this fall. Phyllis represented the Gallery Guide Program while I represented the Trail and Architecture Guide Programs. The Symposium is organized and attended biannually by docents from more than 120 museums from all over the United States and Canada. This year’s Symposium was held at the Netherlands Plaza Hotel, a beautifully restored hotel built in French Art Deco style   in 1931. The participants were treated to wonderful dinners at different cultural venues each evening, with time to visit their galleries as well as chat with other participants. “Path to the Future: Preparing the Museum for 2025” was the opening panel discussion for the symposium. The panelists discussed the ways in which museums need to adapt and change to engage guests in the 21st century. Many, if not most of the strategies discussed are already being implemented here at Crystal Bridges, including the use of iPads and other technology in the galleries; hosting of social and culinary events such as Art Night Out, Wednesday Over Water, and New 365; and themed events to attract families, such as Family Sunday, the spring Garden Party, and Preschool Play Date. It made me realize how innovative and cutting-edge our programs and exhibitions are. The highlight of the panel was when Crystal Bridges was specifically recognized for the research our education department commissioned in 2012 to determine the effectiveness of museum school programs. Breakout sessions covered a variety of topics including mentoring docents, using iPads to enhance tours, docent evaluation models, short-stop gallery talks, storytelling as a tour technique, and technology in museums. enjoyed a tour of public murals in the Over the Rhine district. Art Works Cincinnati pairs artists with at-risk teens to paint murals representing the city’s significant people, events, and artists. The program enables teens to develop skills, self-esteem and ownership in addition to creating fun art for the city. Everywhere we went, docents expressed interest and admiration for Crystal Bridges. If they hadn’t been to visit, they were planning to come. It was clearly evident that Crystal Bridges is recognized as an exceptional museum. I felt full of pride that I was representing an institution that is admired in the museum community. The conference logo was a bridge in the city and it truly was an opportunity to build bridges between docents, museums, education, and art. I returned to Crystal Bridges grateful for the experience and appreciative for the extensive support that the Guide Program receives from the Museum staff. I also was inspired to give better tours with more guest engagement in order to welcome all and give them insight into our art, grounds, and architecture and enable them to go away saying “that was informative and fun.”

Linda DeBerry
Senior Copy Editor / Publications Manager

1 Comment

  1.' Blossom Gluck says:

    wonderful, I am a docent and am very interested in learning more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *