Current McNay Docent Chair-Elect Mary Hogan shares: “Anyone who loves art, learning, and people would love to be a docent at the McNay.”
What is a docent? The term literally translates as teacher. McNay docents engage students on tours, which are an essential component of the McNay Mission: to engage a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts.
What does a McNay docent do? Offer student and adult tour experiences primarily on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings; but tours are also offered on weekends and Thursday evenings.
What does a tour “look like”? Typically, 45 minutes to an hour in length depending on the age group. Tours involve sharing information about a work of art and allowing for questions about art. Questions invite the McNay visitors to think, compare, and evaluate the ideas that are exchanged, and all these thought processes lead to new understanding and insights about art. Learning (and touring) takes place through conversation.
“One of the most rewarding things about being a docent is connecting with museum visitors through a dialogue about works of art. Never underestimate what can happen in the span of a tour.”
What does new docent training involve? New docent training (NDT) requires a significant commitment at the outset. Training sessions take place twice a week, or about four to five hours weekly, starting in late summer/early fall and going through March. Training consists of class time where we study art history, especially as it pertains to the McNay’s collection; and time spent in the museum’s galleries learning about touring strategies with works in our collection. Jenelle Esparza, the McNay’s Head of Education, teaches the class, but museum curators, staff, fellow docents, and guest speakers assist with training. After training is complete, all new docents commit to monthly training sessions and three half-days of continuing education in January and September when the museum opens new exhibitions.
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