Fall 2016 Docent Class Forming

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© R. C. French

Stewards of History and Identity
Institute of Texan Cultures recruiting volunteers

To apply for the fall 2016 docent class, call the Institute of Texan Cultures volunteer office at (210) 458-2226 or email itcvolunteers@utsa.edu.


(SAN ANTONIO) – The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures documents, preserves and presents stories of people and their ways of life through artifacts, historic images and recorded stories. In the Wi-Fi age, with information at anyone’s fingertips, museums need to do more than simply place items on display and words on a wall. Museums create experiences, and at the ITC, it’s the docents that make a visit memorable.

The museum is recruiting for its fall docent class, scheduled to begin Oct. 24, with classes following on Oct. 26 and 28, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each day. The volunteer program is seeking individuals to act as tour guides or to be stationed at a particular exhibit to explain it and interact with museum guests.

To apply for the fall 2016 docent class, call the Institute of Texan Cultures volunteer office at (210) 458-2226 or email itcvolunteers@utsa.edu.

Museums and their volunteers can share stories, traditions and ways of life with young students or museum guests in ways no classroom or traveler’s guide can. Docents are what sets a museum apart from an attic.

"We’re turning a place full of stuff, pictures, and words on walls into an immersive, interactive experience," said Paul Stevens, Manager of volunteer services at the institute. "When our docents can pass an object to a person and describe what it took to bring that object here, or when a docent challenges a student with a question and sees the lightbulb come on, that’s what makes this museum memorable. It’s our people, and the experiences they create for others."

In addition to tour guides or area specialists, the museum hopes to recruit new docents interested in preserving the crafts that helped pioneers make life livable on the frontier. Crafting traditions such as spinning and weaving are fading quickly, and with the convenience of grocery stores, few families plant their own food. New docents can learn these skills at the museum then help demonstrate them for museum guests.

"It’s a new generation," said Stevens. "We need to see these classic skills passed along, and there is interest in doing it. We see shows about frontiersmen, blacksmiths, and artisans that are captivating. We hear about maker cultures and people wanting to learn the old trades. This is an opportunity to learn and to teach. That’s how you preserve a culture and a way of life."

The Institute of Texan Cultures currently has 136 active volunteers. In 2015, they gave an estimated 18,151 hours to the museum, the equivalent of $427,639.21 in salaries or about 10 full time employees.

"They’re the real treasure," said Stevens. "Just as important as that spinning wheel or loom is the person who knows how to use it. That picture on the wall is just a picture, until someone teaches you how to look closer and see what it’s really showing. The institute is a place about people and how they live. The objects in the cases have little meaning until someone can tell you how people used them. That’s the power of a docent and what makes our people the stewards of the Texan identity."

The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA Hemisfair Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.





©2014 Institute of Texan Cultures. University of Texas at San Antonio. All Rights Reserved.


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