Join our 2018 docent class!

Join our 2018 docent class!

Our volunteer docents are the face of the PMA, doing everything from greeting school groups to leading visitors around the Winslow Homer Studio. We are currently looking for docents to join our wonderful team. Interested applicants must attend a required information session on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This is an opportunity to meet museum staff and current Docents, learn more about the program, and participate in small group gallery discussions. To reserve your space, please email Katia Christakis.

We sat down with docent Chris Merrill to discuss what makes being a PMA docent so rewarding.

What made you want to become a docent?

I always would come to the museum during difficult times in my life. And it always felt like a very comfortable, safe, and enjoyable space, and it helped me center myself a little bit. I wanted to be a docent because I love kids, and I get a lot back when I do tours. Sometimes I get more out of it than they do, I think.

Were you at all surprised by how we lead tours?

I was a little nervous when I got selected because I didn’t have any art history background and I was afraid I’d have to come up with some sort of deep biographical knowledge which I didn’t have. And it turns out the training was perfect for me in that way, because you weren’t looking for that. You were looking for facilitating, talking, and teaching all age levels . . . which was good for me.

You have a particular poetry writing exercise—Peregrinations—that you often use on your tours. Can you tell us about it?

I do use that a lot. Well, peregrinations are walking, wandering on foot, exploring. In the case of the museum, it’s exploring inside a painting. It’s a matter of just looking into it, and imagining yourself in the setting and what it would be like to be there, what it would smell like, what it would look like, what it would feel like as you wander through it. And I think that’s why you get so many different poems. I wish I could keep all the poems and have a book of them and see what all the kids have to say. Most of the teachers, they get a kick out of it. The kids have a good time. And that’s what I want to do. I want to make sure that when my group leaves they had fun, they want to come back if they have a chance to come back with their folks, to come back and enjoy it. This is a different way of looking at things. Especially with the fact that there’s no right or wrong answer. I think that’s very important for kids, because I think kids would be afraid to say anything if they thought there was a right or wrong. They don’t want to be wrong. Who wants to be wrong?

Could we share your Peregrinations poem, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s River Cove?

Absolutely, of course. (Poem follows the image)

I will now step inside the safe zone
and walk directly into this quiet shaded cove
and pick my way along the sandy shore.
I will snap a twig off a nearby pine and drag
it through the sand as I wander deeper into 
the cool cove, stooping to examine the shells and 
animal tracks I see next to the water’s edge.
Smelling the salty air I move further into the scrub pines
along the cove’s edge, kneeling to pick up pebbles and
flat stones to toss into the calm water or to skip along the 
smooth surface.
Looking back at my footprints in the sand I can barely see
the small square window from which I came,
wondering it the next visitors to view my cove will be able to see my faint
footprints in the sand or see the ripples in the water where I 
cast my stones.
or if I have wandered beyond the point of return, a mere speck amidst the pines.

Andrew Wyeth (United States, 1917-2009), "River Cove," 1958, tempera on masonite. Gift of David Rockefeller in honor of his son, Richard Rockefeller, 2015.16

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September 13, 2017
Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Interpretation

As the Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Interpretation, Jenn strives to provide opportunities for visitors to make meaningful connections with art. Having worked in museums for over 15 years, she has come to believe that a museum can be a playful place where we explore creativity from the past and present to inform our future. Jenn loves exploring art, nature, food and drink with her husband and young daughter.