Community Outreach Intern
As the semester winds down, I have been reflecting on the appreciation and knowledge I have gained from the docent training program at DOMA. In addition to being involved in all activities relating to community outreach, I have had the opportunity as an intern to attend weekly docent training meetings on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 p.m.
These meetings have given me a new insight into museums. Docents are volunteers who lead tours through the museum. These people amaze and inspire me each time I interact with them. They range in age from college students to early eighties. These docents are students, teachers, and retired community members who love art and want to share their knowledge. According to Barbara Alvarez Bohanon, “The Docent Learning Program at DOMA has greatly expanded my horizons through knowledge and appreciation of art. I enjoy using that knowledge to help museum visitors grow as they find their own connections to art and the world beyond.”
Cathy Bretz, DOMA’s Education Program Coordinator, with the help of Tania Said, Director of Education, works diligently to prepare for the docent training meetings each week. Cathy also deftly arranges tours and recruits trained docents to lead these tours. In addition to this, she creates the tour plans for most guided tours.
When asked about the program, Cathy said, “The best part of my job is working with and getting to know our volunteers. Through their efforts, we’re able to engage visitors of all ages and I’m grateful for their continued dedication to DOMA. We simply couldn’t do it without them.”
Sierra Trowbridge, the current DOMA education assistant, past DOMA education intern, and docent of 2 ½ years made the comment: “As a public history major, being a docent is a constant learning experience, both with art and people. I’ve met many fantastic people and made many connections that would not have happened otherwise. The knowledge that I have gained about interacting with art and helping others appreciate art is absolutely priceless.”
Throughout my time in the program, I have not only been privileged to meet these docents, but I also had the opportunity to learn from experts in different areas of art. I have been educated on Pre-Columbian, Native American, African, Chinese and Japanese, Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese, and Pacific art. Not only have I been exposed to extensive new knowledge on these works of art and the cultures that made them, I have been able to look at works in DOMA that correspond with each type of art and given an explanation of these objects by experts. Questions were welcomed by the art historians, historians, and artists. This conveyed what they thought valuable for docents to know about their respective specialties.
The opportunity to be involved in the docent training program has been one of the most notable I have had while interning at the museum. I would suggest the program to anyone interested in working in a museum, education, art or related subjects. The next informational meeting is Thursday, January 12, at 3:30 pm in AR 223 at the David Owsley Museum of Art in the Fine Arts Building of Ball State University. To become involved in the docent training program, please contact Cathy Bretz at firstname.lastname@example.org.