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Learning and Interpretation: Welcoming the Docent Class of 2017!

by Andrew Palamara

11/20/2017

learning & interpretation , docents , gallery talk , gallery teaching , education , tours , gallery experiences

This month, the museum added 24 new members to the Docent Corps. Over the course of ten months, the new docents attended weekly training sessions focused on gallery teaching techniques, working with audiences of all ages, abilities and cultures, and learning more about the museum’s permanent collection. The docent class of 2017 is full of bright and caring individuals that are ready to make our visitors’ experiences even better.

Who better to introduce them than the docents themselves? Here are some brief interviews with a few of the museum’s newest docents:

 Roza Vilner

Weekend Docent

What inspired you to become a docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum? 

A desire to learn more about the institution and share knowledge with the public.

If you could discuss one artwork in the collection with a visitor, what would it be and why?

It changes constantly...This week is Abstraction (Head) by Pablo Picasso. This painting illustrates the inner tension we feel during hard times; it seems to represent a disturbance or psychic disruption in the individual. The effect it has on me is a feeling of sorrow. But we each bring our own experiences and perspectives to a work of art, so I would encourage visitors to observe and to take note of what they see and feel.

What aspect of being a docent excites you the most?

I believe that the story of art – past, present, and future- enriches life, promotes a thriving creative economy, and links people across history and culture.

 

 Phil Weintraub

Weekend/Weekday Docent

What inspired you to become a docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum?

I love looking at art, talking about art, and sharing what I know about art — but more importantly, I enjoy learning new things about works, artists, techniques, and styles that I haven’t yet encountered or understood. Being a docent is a perfect opportunity for me to be in the company of other art lovers while making it an enjoyable and educational experience for them and for me as well.

 

If you could discuss one artwork in the collection with a visitor, what would it be and why?

Asking me to select one artwork from our entire collection is like asking me to find a perfect grain of sand on an already beautiful beach. But, if I have to pick just one, I’d go for the four Tiffany windows at the top of the Great Hall staircase. These have the advantage of having a Cincinnati provenance, the Tiffany tradition (even if only for jewelry or lamps), and not least, for the incandescent beauty of the windows and the techniques behind how Tiffany transformed and elevated the artistry of stained glass.

 

What aspect of being a docent excites you the most?

Many of my own visits to other museums were made exponentially better because I was part of a docent-led tour. As much as I think I know about art, having a knowledgeable guide opens my eyes and my imagination ever further, every time. I hope that my tour guests walk away with that same feeling of discovery, art appreciation, and the desire to become a regular museum goer.

 

 Sarah Shay

Weekend Docent

What inspired you to become a docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum?

The idea of getting other people excited and talking about art was the key driving force for me. I love art and history (especially Cincinnati centric history), and I didn’t have a lot of outlets or opportunities to share it with others. I have a creative job, but it doesn’t allow for the engaging conversations about art that I was craving. As much as I wanted to get other people talking about art, I realized I needed it personally, too.

 

If you could discuss one artwork in the collection with a visitor, what would it be and why?

I would say the Joan Miro mural. It lets me talk about a piece that I feel gets walked by but not seen and Cincinnati history, since it came from the Terrace Plaza Hotel. I also love all things Mid-Century Modern, so it really checks all the boxes for me.

 

What aspect of being a docent excites you the most?

Having a captive audience! Kidding! (Mostly...) I really love the idea of challenging someone to see things a little differently, or maybe just giving them a new piece of trivia to stick in their brain. We have such an impressive collection at the museum and I hope I can highlight some of the overlooked pieces and get some interesting and memorable dialogues going.

 

 Scott Ehrnschwender

Weekday Docent

What inspired you to become a docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum?

I was inspired to become a docent because the museum offered numerous unique opportunities. First, selfishly, is the opportunity for life-long learning. To witness beauty through art work, interpret its story and mystery, feel emotion, combined with learning art and history is a wonderful experience that I hope to continue and savor for many years. Second, I’m thrilled with the opportunity to engage with others, to encourage discussion and share experience, and to help guests deepen their interest in art and beauty. Third, is the unique opportunity to promote art at the museum within the community, nurturing deeper roots for local Cincinnatians, and heightening appreciation of Cincinnati culture for those outside the city.

 

If you could discuss one artwork in the collection with a visitor, what would it be and why?

Monsalvat by Anselm Kiefer - Like the physical painting itself, Monsalvat’s story has many layers, each layer steeped in conflict and emotion. It’s exhilarating to grasp the work of art and its story.

 

What aspect of being a docent excites you the most?

Unquestionably, it’s the challenge of motivating the guests to want more....more museum, more art, more in life!

 

The docents of the class of 2017 have already begun leading tours at the museum. I’m proud of what they have accomplished in their training, and I’m excited to see them lead tours and engage with the public for many years to come. Whenever you make your next visit, we hope you join one of our tours!

 

Andrew Palamara

Assistant Director of Docent Learning