Getting to Know the New Docents

The desire to communicate the power of art to others is the main requirement to become a docent at the Dallas Museum of Art.  This year, we have twelve candidates in our New Docent class, and they begin their training next Monday.  The next nine months will be jam-packed with training sessions that will help them prepare for giving tours to visitors of all ages.  We’ll spend a lot of time talking about how to teach in the galleries, and a majority of their time will be spent getting to know the over 23,000 works of art in the DMA’s collection (not an easy feat).

The members of the new docent class of 2011-2012 come from a variety of backgrounds: we have artists, retired teachers, lawyers, and bankers.  One thing they all have in common is a passion for art and enriching students’ lives.  I asked all of them why they want to become a docent at the DMA and what they hope to gain from the experience.  Below are responses from some of the new docents in their own words.

Students on a docent-guided tour of the DMA

  • “As a student of the arts my entire life, I would love nothing more than to share this love and understanding with others of all ages and knowledge levels.  I think it’s fascinating to see art through the eyes of a child; they often point out things that I have never noticed; fresh eyes are essential to keeping artworks alive.  I cannot imagine anything more rewarding than a child’s face lighting up as they explore a new piece, learn something new, and go home with excitement about art.” —Suzie Curnes
  • “I would like to help young people understand that to fully appreciate a work of art, you have to know its history, you have to look at it very carefully and, ideally, even sketch it.  You also need to think about how it makes you feel.  Then you have formed a relationship with it, and you won’t ever forget it.” —Sanlyn Kent
  • “I enjoy standing in front of a group of people, young or old, and explaining the topic, asking them questions, helping the group get involved in the discussion…There is nothing more exciting and fun than talking about and teaching about something that you love.” —Cynthia Camuel
  • “I have a strong emotional connection to the DMA.  After the Museum moved downtown, I would frequently go to the DMA and walk through the galleries during my lunch hour.  Spending time at the Dallas Museum of Art gave me a great education.  Being a docent will give me an opportunity to make a modest payment for those great experiences.” —Bill Bounds
  • “As a native Dallasite, I have enjoyed the DMA for many years, and have always seen the Museum as a vibrant learning environment.  As a docent, I believe I can expand my experiences, while passing on my knowledge to others.  I’m truly excited about the possibility!” —Harriet Stoneham

This will be my first year to train a new group of docents, and I’m also excited about all of the possibilities we will discover together.  The new docents will begin touring in early 2012, so you and your students may just have a chance to meet them when you visit the DMA during the coming year!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching


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