Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TAM Docents: Recap of today's training

Hello Docents-

Thanks to all of you who participated in today’s training -  and for those who participated in the potluck! Yummy. I wanted to recap for those that attended and make sure that those who were not able to attend know about some opportunities and changes. I have the notes below. Please let me know if you have any questions (and those that were there can feel free to correct me if I have made any mistakes!)


Docent Training Notes

June 22, 2010



1)    The peer and self-evaluation process

a.    Feedback and observations – We are going to re-evaluate the form by having me make more open questions that you will share with each other giving on the spot feedback. I will rework then send out my interpretation of that to all of you for feedback. It was determined that it would be useful to do evaluations one-on-one one time per year and to do group evaluations for group presentations once per year. The group evaluation would be more of a “check this box” format that would need to be designed. I will get back to you on that as well.

b.    Comment made that we “need more tours” – what can we do as docents to promote tours at Tacoma Art Museum? Judi mentioned that she puts out the sign that says “Docent Tours Available Upon Request” versus the timed signs and that leaves the option much more open for visitors. Brilliant! Those signs should be available at the front desk so feel free to do this when you are here. Also, if you can get materials out to places that you visit and promote group tours, that would be helpful. TAM will be creating a marketing piece for group tours and your help in promoting them would be greatly appreciated. Some of the great ideas for distribution are below. If you have an “in” with any of these, let us know.

Elder Hostels, Historical Societies, Alumni Associations, AARP, Sororities or Fraternities, Red Had Society, etc.

2)    Chihuly tours will now be considered a requirement for all docents unless physical restrictions apply. Training materials available for any who need it. Let me know if you are physically unable to perform Chihuly tours or you may get scheduled for one.

3)    A Conversation: Would docents like the option of contacting tour leaders directly? You now have complete permission and blessing to contact group leaders for tours you are leading prior to the scheduled tours. This is not a requirement but an option for those who like to be acquainted with their groups before they arrive or who want to be able to tailor a tour to particular group’s interests. A couple of docents gave this a try recently and really liked the results so we are opening that up to all. Typically, the group leader and contact number are already included in the information I send you for confirmation of tours. Feel free to let me know if you need it and I neglected to get that to you.

4)    Interactive tour elements – After last Friday’s training on working with the blind in museum settings, the handful of us there (OK, Linda, Josh and I) discussed having “hands-on” materials incorporated with all tours. Some great examples from our discussion today are: canvas with different art treatments (oil versus acrylic, heavy versus light coat of paint, and so on), a piece of archival cardboard for use when discussing Leroy, two samples of glass (one painted and the other fused) to demonstrate with Chihuly tours. We are looking for meaningful ways to engage visitors and I will rely heavily on your input and assistance in creating a cache of items that we can store up at the Docent desk for everyone’s use. Then you can just grab the materials that you find useful for the type of tour that you would like to give. While I have a modest budget, there is still wiggle room to order some supplies as necessary. An example would be the feather quills that we used for the St. John’s Bible tours. I can also ask artists for some things – for example, we could have use an elephant similar to that in the Pile of Elephants, we might be able to talk Vicki Adams into a piece of used canvas that has some of her paint treatments on it, scraps and bits that help us to tell the story. If you have ideas, please bring them on. If it is something that needs to be created, I would be happy to work with you to get supplies if you are willing to create the item. Karin Morris has been so gracious as to offer to help create a handout we may use that features “The element of design” which she will submit to me for review with the Ed Dept and then I will distribute that to all of you.

5)    What sort of training opportunities would you like to see offered next year? I have heard that you would like to do at least one group presentation next year, more if time allows. Other suggestions included more information on how to create interactive tours and get-togethers with docents from other museums to discuss their approach to tours. If you have any special requests or see any gaping holes in the training that need filled, your feedback would be greatly appreciated. I want trainings to be meaningful affairs and I want you all to know that I value your opinions and participation in many of these processes (Sorry, it would slow us down too much to get feedback on absolutely everything!)


While these notes are not a blow-by-blow of what I feel was a very productive meeting in terms of discussion and feedback, I hope that you feel empowered to do certain things to make tours even more meaningful for you and our visitors. You are a very important component to the Group Tour Program, it is safe to say that we cannot do them without you, so we need you to look out for it too and help make it all that it can be – or at the very least, help me help you! I did talk to Rock today about the need for seating in the galleries, as promised, and he did note that the Neddy will be the last for a while (until Norman Rockwell) that will have limited seating due to a wealth of artwork in the gallery.


Thank you for all that you do for Tacoma Art Museum!



Jana Wennstrom

Manager of Public and Volunteer Programs


1701 Pacific Avenue

Tacoma, Washington 98402

T: 253.272.4258 x3030

F: 253.627.1898




Post a Comment

<< Home