This Monday past was the Docent Spring Thing—every year the Education department holds a party in the museum to celebrate and thank the two hundred-plus docents who work so hard year round. The party is a chance for the staff to come out and say hello to and thank the touring footsoldiers of the museum.
The docents are a highly committed, all-volunteer team, and their training program is extensive and ongoing. The newly graduated docent class spent over 200 hours completing their course of study, and even seasoned twenty-year veterans are required to attend regular courses, trainings, and museum events to keep on top of their skills.
The amount of work the docents do is fairly staggering and not always visible in its entire scope to either staff or public: They provide at least four free daily tours every day of the year that the museum is open, plus special-exhibition tours and artist-specific highlight tours on top of that: the public tours alone served nearly twenty THOUSAND visitors in 2007. They also do extensive work with school children from around the Bay Area: more than eight thousand students from grades three to eight, and many hundreds of high school and college students, come to the museum each year as part of docent-led touring programs. For other students who aren’t able to come to the museum, the docents also do outreach programs, talking to and doing in-school projects with another thousand-plus children each year.
My first job at SFMOMA was scheduling the docents, and I know just how hard they work, how much they love and care about art, about SFMOMA, and about what they do. This is just a small word of thanks to the SFMOMA docents. More party pictures are here.