You may wonder how a museum that has only been open since 1964 can possibly be celebrating 2,020 years of anything. But when it comes to our fantastic docents, the numbers make sense—that’s the total number of years of service worked by all 207 of our current volunteer docents.
Pictured from left to right: Director Brent D. Glass, Docents Barbara Troutner, Nora Whalen, Perle Miller, Gloria Babin, Mia Bernett, Ron Wallach, Bob Fratis, Andrea Lowther, Jewell Dassance, Ray Bolze.
I was prompted to break out the calculator because just this past week, we held our annual Docent Award Ceremony. The event is an opportunity to formally recognize the service and dedication of the individuals who enrich the visitor experience by providing highlights tours of the Museum, presenting hands-on carts and activities in our Spark!Lab and Invention at Play exhibitions, and interacting informally with visitors in exhibitions like America on the Move and The Price of Freedom: Americans at War. It was also a homecoming of sorts, since it was our first major docent gathering since the museum completed its renovations last year.
During the ceremony, we honored docents marking anywhere from 4 to 40 years of service—including Mary Jane Hellekjaer, who marked her 40th anniversary as a docent. We also welcomed an amazing 63 first-year docents, all of whom joined the corps in preparation for our reopening in November 2008. As we made our way through the program, I was struck yet again by how lucky we, and our visitors, are to have such passionate, intelligent, enthusiastic, and friendly people on our team.
So to our docents—thank you. We treasure every one of those 2,020 years—and counting! And if you’re planning a visit to the museum, be sure to check out the schedule of docent programs at the Welcome Desk. You’ll be glad you did.
Andrea Lowther is Manager of Visitor Programs at the National Museum of American History.