Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Debut as a Museum Docent

Maybe the first sign that everything was not going to go perfectly was that the secretary at the school  I visited told me that my name tag was upside down!

After ten months of training as a docent  at the Snite Museum at Notre Dame and the South Bend Museum of Art, I met my first group in their third-grade classroom yesterday. My assignment was to do a presentation on sculpture as an introduction to their museum visit a few days later.  Everything I needed was in a kit that the museum provides.

But the powerpoint didn't work so I asked for an overhead projector which also was not available.  Flexibility?  Improvisation?  Of course!  I held up the overhead slides with a white sheet of paper behind them and we made do!

Today I did my second two presentations at another elementary school in town.  This time we were able to use overheads and after a few tries, I managed to get the slides right side up.  We'll see how much the students remember about geometric and organic sculpture, the additive and subtractive processes in creating sculpture, and the various media used when they visit the Snite.  I, at least, have learned a lot!

It was interesting and educational to do the same presentation three times.  The teacher at the first school was so much warmer and involved than the other two.  She assigned a student to walk me back to the office and asked him to be sure to converse with me.  She was proud of the behavior of the students and subsequently told them she felt better about their taking a field trip.

But today one of the teachers left me on my own while a PE teacher to whom I was not introduced walked in and out.  That presentation was interrupted by a long intercom announcement awarding  special pumpkins to one person in each class.  Not surprisingly, that class was the most restless of the three.

I learned to manage the objects for touching much better by my third attempt.  Otherwise there was too much of "I didn't get to touch the heart, the dog, the marble, etc." or "She/he won't pass it on to anyone else."

We are "contracted" to do ten of these visits each academic year.  I have now done two and next week I'll meet my third obligation by taking four classes in a row through the museum itself to look at these sculptures.  I have loved learning about the art in the last ten months;  and this is the requirement for doing so.  It is a challenge;  it will probably get easier as I develop some experience.

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