With weekly visits by school children starting next week, docents are in high demand at the Wiregrass Museum of Art.
Dothan City Schools awarded a contract to the Wiregrass Museum of Art to provide weekly educational field trips for students at the system’s two A+ Arts schools − Hidden Lake Primary and Beverlye Intermediate − as well as professional development for teachers.
The contract will not exceed $50,000 and will be paid for with Title I funds. Students will take gallery tours and participate in hands-on projects. By the time the program wraps up, each student from the two schools will have toured the museum and done an art project twice during the school year.
“We are excited about this great resource for our teachers and the world of enrichment that will be opened up from participation with this local partner,” Dothan City Schools Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards said in a Friday news release.
But weekly tours means more volunteers are needed to help with the increased traffic.
A docent is a trained volunteer who guides tour groups through the museum. Groups visit through programs like Bus on Us, which reimburses schools for transportation costs to bring students to the museum at least once a year. The museum currently offers Bus on Us to Dothan and Houston County schools. In addition, the museum gives tours to homeschool students, groups from the Boys and Girls Club and even church groups.
You don’t have to be an art historian to be a docent, said Brook McGinnis, the museum’s volunteer and docent coordinator.
“We just want someone who is interested in art, passionate about art who would like to share that passion or interest with others,” McGinnis said. “It’s a great way to interact with the works that we have here and also with the public.”
Currently, the museum has six active docents.
“Our main concern is we don’t want anyone to get burned out,” McGinnis said. “We want everyone to be able to enjoy doing this and do this when they’re able to, so it’s important to us to grow that number a bit.”
You have to at least be 18 years old to be a docent due to a required background check. McGinnis said it’s a great experience for college education majors because it gives them a chance to interact with students.
Under the contract with Dothan City Schools, the museum will also lead workshops for teachers at Hidden Lake and Beverlye during the year.
While the museum already offers free digital lesson plans to all teachers, a new online platform linked to museum’s website, wiregrassmuseum.org, will launch on Oct. 1. Teachers can ask questions, share ideas and interact with museum educators and staff through the new platform. And later in the school year, the museum will host a workshop for all Dothan teachers on ways they can incorporate the arts into their curriculum.
The Wiregrass Museum of Art is open every Wednesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free. Private tours and activities can be scheduled by appointment for Mondays and Tuesdays. Visit www.wiregrassmuseum.org/museum-tours for more information.