The National Gallery of Canada Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of its Docent Program on 24 October 1999
Ottawa, Canada - October 12, 1999
« Le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada fête le 25e anniversaire de ses guides bénévoles le 24 octobre 1999 »
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Docent Program, the National Gallery is pleased to honour the achievements of these enthusiastic volunteer guides who have so generously given of their time and shared their knowledge on the Gallery's permanent collection.
"The docents fulfill an important role in the interpretation of our national collection to our public," said Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery of Canada. "In their many years of dedicated service, our docents have engaged students in schools and visitors of all ages in discovering their National Gallery."
And so on Sunday 24 October, to mark this milestone anniversary, the National Gallery of Canada will open its doors to a day of special activities called Silver Reflections. From 10:30 am to 5 pm, music, dance, and poetry will accompany short presentations by docents on major works of art in the Gallery's permanent collections. Tours will leave from the Artissimo kiosk in the Great Hall every half hour. Highlights of the day's presentations include a talk on Inuit sculpture with a performance of throat singing and drumming by the Inuit group Aqsarniit at 11 am; a talk on Rembrandt's Heroine from the Old Testament and a musical performance by the Lisgar Collegiate Strings ensemble at 12:30 pm; and a talk on the Dancer by Antonio Canova with a modern dance performance featuring choreography by Susie Burpee and her dancers at 1:30 pm. Opening ceremonies take place at 12 noon in the Great Hall.
The word "docent" comes from the Latin verb "docere", meaning to instruct, teach, or inform. Today the term refers to a volunteer tour guide with professional training. The volunteer guide
program was founded in 1974 when former Gallery Director Jean Sutherland Boggs approved a new educational program, proposed by members of the National Gallery Association, to have trained volunteer guides introduce Gallery visitors to our nation's art treasures. Since then, docents have engaged thousands of children and adults in responding to the artist's world of expression, creativity, and imagination. The program has been managed by the Education Division since 1977. A full-time coordinator was appointed in 1991 to implement the training, which includes courses in the history of art and museum education techniques, given by Gallery staff and outside faculty, largely drawn from universities. Weekly sessions, research seminars and preparatory work for special exhibitions, as well as field trips to other galleries, supplement the formal training.
The work of the docents is tailored to respond to the needs of different visitor groups. For school children there are theme visits to introduce them to works of art and studio workshops given by Education staff. For the general public there are free daily guided tours of the European and Canadian permanent collections. The popular noon-time Mini-talks introduce recent acquisitions and masterpieces. Since 1986, docents have shared the excitement and been part of the crowds as they guide tours of the major special summer exhibitions. Blue Moon Thursdays recently started as a more in-depth evening program exploring a group of works with a seasonal or topical theme and allowing for discussion and interchange on a personal level. Discovery Jumps are guided family mini-tours offered on weekends and holidays.
All presentations and performances on 24 October are free of charge, as are visits to the permanent collection for everyone, every day.
Director, Public Affairs
tel. (613) 990-5050
Karen Lisa Oxorn
tel. (613) 990-6835
fax (613) 990-9824
tel. (613) 990-3142
National Gallery of Canada
tel. (613) 990-1985
380 Sussex Drive