We’ve all had the thought while walking through a museum: “What is the artist trying to say with this piece?” We may not understand their intent right away, and we, perhaps, never will or will just forget about it altogether. Sometimes, it doesn’t really matter what the artists meant, but rather how that piece made us feel. In any case, we all have different experiences at museums, and if given the opportunity to take a tour with a docent – someone who is well educated in the museum collection and offers great insight into the art and its significance and, thereby, enhance our museum experience, why not take it?
Docents are volunteers. They contribute their time to educate museum visitors about specific exhibits and/ or collections in the Museum. The fact that they donate their time means that they want to offer their service and that they like what they do. Docents do not receive monetary compensation, but they do feel compensated, each in his/her own way. Additionally, every docent has their own reasons for volunteering, which brings me to another point – every volunteer has a story.
CBS News Sunday Morning had a segment in its broadcast called “Everybody has a Story” a few years ago (it is not shown as much now). Sitting down to write this blog and interviewing one of our many wonderful docents, Renee Buchsbaum, that particular news segment came to mind. Later, I thought how great it would be to apply the same concept with our volunteers to our Museum blog every few months.
To kick off our new blog segment – “Every Volunteer Has a Story” – I will begin by telling Renee’s story. We sat down together last week and she told me a bit about herself, her travels, and her experience as a docent at the Boca Museum.
Renee graduated as a docent in 2013 and has been heading tours for a little less than six months. Originally a ‘snowbird’, she became aware of the docent program at the Boca Museum and decided to stay in Florida in order to fulfill her docent training which ran past the summer. Her main reason for becoming a docent is because she enjoys art and it is “fulfilling for yourself; walking amidst beautiful things.” She mentioned that, as a widow and with so much available time, she enjoys the docent experience very much, especially because she loves being around people and loves the atmosphere at the Museum. When asked what are the pros and cons of being a docent and to give any advice to those thinking of becoming docents, she could only think of positive things to say about it; that it is enriching and that anyone thinking about participating should definitely do it. “It is so rewarding….getting something back by exchanging ideas with people and children, whether you have an art background or not.” (Renee has a background in interior design). She also said that not only is the experience enriching for her, but that docents also enhance the visitor experience through the Socratic Method by discussing, narrating, and asking questions. Renee took a one month hiatus to travel to Asia and is now settling back in from the whirlwind of a trip. As we sat together, a few of her colleagues stopped to greet her and expressed how happy they were to have her back; Renee was very glad to back as well.
Docent tours are held daily and are free with Museum admission. Click Here for times.
If you would like more information or are interested in applying to the docent program at the Boca Museum of Art, Click Here
For other volunteer opportunities at the Boca Museum, Click Here