Volunteering has been an important part of my life for the last 20 years. I’ve volunteered through my old workplace, on a neighborhood association board, and at a local sustainability organization. For about the last 15 years, my main volunteer gig was at WORT, Madison’s community radio station, where I helped engineer, produce, and write scripts for the Insurgent Radio Kiosk. That grew old and I stepped back from that this spring. I’ve been looking for a new volunteer gig, and think I’ve found it! I’m in training to be a Docent at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, or MMOCA.
As a Docent, I’ll select a handful of works from the exhibitions, get to know and understand those pieces, and lead tours of grade school, middle school, high school and adults through the museum, focusing on the pieces I’ve selected. I’ll work to get the guests interested and curious about not only the particular artist, piece, and exhibit, but the museum itself, and art and artists in general.
It’s a 12-week training, with weekly afternoon training sessions that include lectures from museum curators, current Docents, and local university and college art professors. Plus, we get tours from MMOCA staff, explaining the ins and outs of the “behind-the-scenes” at the museum – such as humidity and temperature controls, lighting, exhibit space, the permanent collection, operations, and more! There’s reading to complete each week, mainly about art history, art concepts and processes, and what they call “know-how and logistics” for Docents. We need to attend a handful of MMOCA tours led by current Docents, to get a feel for how each Docent has a different style and sensibility. It’s like a semester-long art course!
Why do I think this is the perfect volunteer gig for me? First off, it’s SO important to me that art museums should be FREE, and thankfully, MMOCA is. I have a college degree in art education, so that training in learning and art applies well. Plus, Docents are invited to an introductory session for every single exhibit – kind of like a private class on the artists and the exhibit. How cool is that? Volunteering as a MMOCA Docent will help keep the museum free of an admission charge, put my art and education knowledge to use, PLUS I’ll get to learn in-depth about each exhibit MMOCA puts on. I’m psyched!