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Building a Strong Docent Community. The RISD Museum Docent Council. Judith A. Dorian, Touring Docent RESEARCH ASSISTANCE FROM Kathleen Munro, Touring Docent. RISD Museum Docent Council History Council Organization Bonding Activities. Museum History.

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building a strong docent community

Building a Strong Docent Community

The RISD Museum Docent Council

Judith A. Dorian, Touring Docent


Kathleen Munro, Touring Docent

risd museum docent council history council organization bonding activities
RISD Museum Docent Council History Council Organization Bonding Activities
museum history
Museum History
  • Women’s Centennial Commission for RI exhibition of Philadelphia Exposition of 1876 was left with $1,675 after meeting expenses.
  • With it, they founded School of Design.
  • In 1854, the Rhode Island Art Association was chartered.

Students in the galleries, 1977

docent history
Docent History
  • Term “Docent” coined by Louis Earle Rowe at MFA Boston
    • No trained docents at the RISD Museum in 1958
  • First Ed. Department Director in 1940
  • Volunteer training began after that
    • Junior League, student teachers, volunteers
  • Eventually Docent training program was begun, followed by Docent Org.

Galleries ca. 1910

Photograph by Sheldon

governing documents
Governing Documents
  • Bylaws
    • Define docents and docent categories
    • Provide for and describe Docent Council
  • Handbook
    • Defines responsibilities of Docents and Museum
  • Officers
  • Membership
  • Dues
  • Meetings
  • Council
  • Amendment and review
council committees
Council Committees
  • Nominating Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Library Committee
  • Enrichment Committee
  • Other Committees as necessary
  • A docent representative sits on the Museum’s Education Committee
  • Prepared by Ed. Department in cooperation with Joint Planning Committee
  • Included statement from Education Department:

The staff of the RISD Museum Education Department provides a supportive atmosphere that emphasizes best practice, active inquiry, constructive debate, personal growth, and meaningful interaction among docents, staff, and the public. To support the interpretive mission of the museum, educators and curators provide ongoing learning opportunities in the areas of art history, art education, educational philosophy and learning practices. Staff members are available for docents seeking assistance, guidance, or wanting to discuss any ideas or concerns. They keep docents informed about the Museum, manage administration related to the Docent program, and keep accurate records.

docent position description
Docent Position Description
  • Obligations and Responsibilities
    • Attend weekly docent class
    • Volunteer for required number of tours annually
    • Understand and follow Museum policies and procedures
    • Secure replacement if you cannot fulfill a tour obligation
    • Complete and submit planning & reflection forms
  • Docent Benefits
goals and guidelines
Goals and Guidelines
  • Best Practices
  • Tour Procedures and Logistics
  • Lead Docent responsibilities
bonding opportunities
Bonding Opportunities
  • Enrichment Committee
    • Plans trips and outings to other museums, exhibits and galleries
  • Holiday Party
    • Planned and sponsored by docents for docents and Museum staff
  • Season Opening Coffee
    • Provided by museum. Coincides with Spring meeting.

Docent Picnic


Docent Forum

    • Quarterly newsletter edited by one of our docents
  • Docent Picnic
    • Coincides with our annual meeting, provided by the Museum
  • BernstingleLecture
    • Coincides with our annual meeting, provided by the Museum
  • Angel Project
    • Fund established and led by one docent to provide funds for buses to help K-12 students visit the Museum
  • Cookbook
    • 2005 project undertaken by docents; books were sold in the gift shop
overall sense of community
Overall Sense of Community

“With this group you never have to worry about which table you will be at, because all of the conversation is interesting”