Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Blog Posts at The Uncataloged Museum

In early 2012, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for Linda Norris on her blog The Uncataloged Museum. At the time, I was a gallery volunteer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, so I wrote three posts on my experiences.


While I’m excited to get involved at the Gardner, I’m a historian, and there’s a voice in my head asking,  “What do I know about art?”  We aren’t expected to be encyclopedias -- in fact, the most important part of our role is being a friendly, welcoming presence in the galleries -- but I want to help visitors make meaning of what they see. Thankfully, the Gardner volunteer trainings include a few very useful kernels of museum education theory...


My Day as a Docent: What Do You Think?


My first shift as a volunteer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was on a Saturday afternoon, just over a week after the historic museum re-opened to debut its new wing. The excited returning visitors and curious new visitors gave the museum an incredible energy. When I arrived, the line to the admissions desk was out the front door...


I titled my first guest post here, about being a volunteer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, “Learning to Talk About Art.” One of the things I have learned in several months there is that only about a third of the questions I get from visitors are about art. Because the Gardner has such a compelling founding story – it was created by one very wealthy woman with a passion for art of all kinds, and her will dictates that the arrangement of the objects never be changed – many visitors want to know more about her and about the construction of the museum. This is a blessing for a docent, because it is easier to learn and share Mrs. Gardner's story than to learn about the thousands of artworks on display....

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