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For Your Consideration 10.2

An Experiential Exhibition offering Follow-Up

The Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) is presenting an exhibition of 11 original installations by California artists designed specifically to engage children and their families. Made in California: NOW is the inaugural exhibition of LACMALab, a new experimental research and development unit within the museum that tests innovative ways for visitors to access, interact with, and respond to art.

Made in California: NOW provides visitors with a wide variety of artistic experiences — from high-tech video immersion, to architecturally inspired gathering spaces, to installations that evolve during the exhibition through audience participation. The 11 artists selected to participate in the exhibition were all given the same charge: create experiential, interactive installations that provoke public response and incorporate feedback; consider LACMA’s permanent collection as a resource; and involve children in the planning, fabrication, and testing of the installations when appropriate.

On view through September 9, 2001, Made in Califorma: NOW functions as an introduction and follow-up to the exhibition Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900-2000 (on view through February 25, 2001), which explores how the arts have shaped or contributed to California’s identity over the past century. Made in California: NOW appears in the Boone Children’s Gallery at LACMA West, and admission is free to all visitors.

How Its Done Elsewhere

In its September 22, 2000 edition of “Weekend” magazine, The Washington Post newspaper, surveyed Washington, DC area museums using volunteer docents, and provided details about their programs. In their list they cited:

  • Corcoran Gallery of Art. Docents volunteer four hours a week. There is an on-going need for docents, but training is in the fall. Some people, however, are taken throughout the year.
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Docents are required to lead tours for 35 hours and participate in 35 hours of continuing education annually. Docents lead tours of the museum and do outreach to schoolchildren and senior citizens.
  • Library of Congress. Docents volunteer for one shift a week, the longest of which is 3-1/2 hours. The library currently needs docents. Training begins in September, but the library continues to take applicants.
  • National Air and Space Museum. Docents volunteer four hours a month in addition to completing two or three hours of continuing education per month. Training runs January through June. Currently recruiting for docents to fill spots on weekends, for school tours, and at their new facility at Dulles Airport.
  • National Archives. Does not need docents at present but will in the future for its Washington and College Park facilities. Docents volunteer once or more a week.
  • National Building Museum. Training occurs once every two years. Two shifts of two hours are required every month; continuing education is not required but is highly recommended.
  • National Gallery of Art. The museum provides nine months of introductory training in addition to continuing education. Docents are required to give 20 tours per academic year.
  • National Museum of African Art. No need for docents at present, but current docents are required to give 60 hours of tours a year and participate in 20 hours of continuing education. The museum keeps a list of people who are interested on file and fills its needs in September and January during the year.
  • National Museum of American History. Weekday docents volunteer one five-hour shift during the week; weekend docents volunteer two five-hour shifts per month.
  • National Museum of Natural History. Docents volunteer a half-day per week. The museum takes about 50 docents a year and currently needs them.
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts. Weekday docents staff the information desk and give guided tours once during the week; weekend docents volunteer once every other weekend. Training begins in September. Docents must commit to two years.

“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 10.2 (Winter 2000-01): 6-7.

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