For years, longtime professor of art Ellen Johnson had overseen a handful of Oberlin College students who acted as tour guides. Beginning in the late eighties, then-Curator of Education (and later AMAM director) Anne Moore recruited and trained a small group of community volunteers to act as docents, and shortly thereafter students were again brought into the program. By 1990, a formal student docent training class was established during the College’s winter term, and since then it has provided students with critical pre-professional experience in a museum setting.
The museum’s Curator of Education teaches this intensive training class, known as the Practicum in Museum Education. During the course, students are introduced to a range of theories and practices on museum learning; conduct extensive research on the AMAM collection; practice public speaking and the practical aspects of conducting gallery tours; and are introduced to AMAM staff and other professionals as a way to learn about museum and arts-related careers. One of the most popular Winter Term courses, the Practicum typically enrolls about twenty students. Many student docents continue on to begin careers in the museum field, in areas such as education, work in curatorial or registrar’s offices, and interpretive technologies.
Oberlin College News article: Student Docents Guide Community Through Allen Memorial Art Museum
As the only fine arts museum in Lorain County and four contiguous counties, the AMAM is a vital resource for a broad demographic spectrum of communities. Its educational materials and gallery tours benefit groups from a range of educational systems, including public, private, and charter schools across a wide socio-economic spectrum (rural, urban, privileged, disadvantaged). Over the years, thousands of local and regional schoolchildren have visited the museum galleries, and generations of Oberlin youngsters have grown up with its world class collection.
Click here for the Practicum in Museum Education 2016 Application (Updated)
If you have any questions, or wish to be added to an interest list for the next available docent class, please contact:
Sally Moffitt, Administrative Assistant or phone (440) 775-8665.