Docent Spotlight: Berkeley Minor
Reposted from FACET SUMMER 2012
As a volunteer at the Georgia Museum of Art for 12 years now, it is safe to say that Berkeley Minor has a gift for enriching the public with her knowledge of art. A degree in art and teaching experience have helped Minor master her role as a docent. Before she became a docent in 2000, Minor served on the board of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art for four years and eventually became the membership organization’s president. Four years ago, she joined the Board of Advisors and will continue her role as a board member in the fall.
Due to her background in art education, Minor’s favorite role at GMOA is community docent, a position that requires much time and effort. Docents give tours of both the permanent collection and traveling exhibitions at the museum. Minor guides visitors, including fifth graders from the Clarke County school district, through the museum. The former teacher has a lot of fun when the children visit the museum, and luckily, her teaching expertise includes methods of crowd control. She notes that with the younger kids, the challenge is learning how to handle behavioral issues and short attention spans; with adults, Minor is primarily bothered by frequent and random wandering around the galleries. Sometimes, to her frustration, she will have to abandon what she prepared for a tour in order to promote more interest from the crowd. Revealing her patience and gentle nature, Minor chuckles at the mention of touching the artwork; she claims that adults are just as bad as the kids in that they all like to get extremely close to the paintings—a temptation that must be resisted at all costs.
The responsibilities of a docent go beyond the museum setting, though. Before docents can give tours, they must be very familiar with the genres of art represented at GMOA. Minor encourages those interested in volunteering at the museum to devote much time to studying the art in order to perform well. Since the permanent collection has only been up for one year, Minor claims that she is still in the process of learning about the works. That task becomes even more challenging with the expectation that docents must become familiar with the various traveling exhibitions that change quarterly, so they can enlighten the museum’s visitors about works not in GMOA’s collection. But Minor’s love of art makes the work well worth her time, and she encourages those considering volunteer work to join the Georgia Museum of Art family. She claims that the docents at the museum do not mind the time commitment simply because they all “really enjoy art.” Minor has met some terrific people who share similar interests and a passion for art. According to Minor, “it’s a lot of fun—it’s just a basic interest in art and wanting to learn more about it.”
In Minor’s years of involvement at the Georgia Museum of Art, she has certainly grown partial to particular works of art in the museum. If visitors only had 20 minutes to spend in the galleries, Minor would guide them directly to the portraits in the permanent collection. She yearns to share her love of these works with the public. With wide eyes, she recalls the history of some of these portraits, which date as far back as 1340 and progress to modern times. In particular, the large triptych by Athens artist Art Rosenbaum interests her, because the miscellaneous elements of his paintings reflect his personal story. In Minor’s words, “the idea of the portrait gets you through everything,” and exploring these vast displays in the museum is a cultural adventure in itself.
Minor’s dedication to GMOA and her willingness to continually expand her knowledge of art is fueled by her respect for the underlying purpose of the museum. According to Minor, this state museum is “a great teaching tool for the teachers of the Lamar Dodd School of Art and other disciplines who use this museum for educational purposes.” She advocates that the public utilize all of the wonderful programs the museum offers, whether films, lectures, classes or receptions. The GMOA staff and community greatly appreciate Minor’s active involvement and contributions to the museum and are more than grateful for her dedicated service. Plainly said, without the help of volunteers, the museum could not operate effectively and could not fulfill its role in the community.