Volunteer Docent Programme launched at the NAGB: Building institutional capacity

By Katrina Cartwright.

This fall, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas will officially launch its volunteer docent programme, which has been formulated to give arts enthusiasts in the Nassau community another avenue to contribute to the continued growth of the NAGB, by sharing their knowledge and experience with the public through guided tours of our permanent and temporary exhibitions. Docents are an imperative part of a successful museum’s structure as they support staff by providing tours to visitors, enhancing their experience and promoting a greater appreciation of the NAGB’s collection of Bahamian art and an understanding of the role the institution plays locally and nationally.

Kim Smith during the opening of his show Medium of the Masters, Master of the Medium at the NAGB

Participants in this programme will undergo intensive training that familiarises them with the NAGB’s history, exhibitions and other kinds of programming. They will develop an acute awareness of the space the institution occupies in The Bahamas as the only institution of its kind nationally, and become acquainted with the relationships it works to cultivate with the surrounding community and other stakeholders. Visitors to the NAGB include, but are not limited to, school and community groups, corporations, teachers and international visitors, making the gallery a wonderfully diverse space, where volunteers and staff can interact with people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Image 2- In conversation with a gallery visitor

The NAGB is committed to engaging the history of Bahamian fine art and visual culture, making creative output accessible to diverse local audiences and to be a showpiece for visitors from abroad to appreciate superior Bahamian fine art. A stimulating environment for learning about Bahamian history and culture through the Permanent Collection, the NAGB is also a platform for creative thinkers. We support contemporary movements and experimental art practice through rotating temporary exhibitions, an extensive public programme schedule, and through a dynamic outreach programme with the community and regional projects beyond our walls. Therefore, in keeping with its mission, the gallery aims to see that every visitor gains some insight and understanding of the exhibitions through the informed presence of the volunteer docents.

Gallery shot of Permanent Exhibition “Revisiting an Eye for the Tropics”

Individuals who have a love of lifelong learning will find their time at the NAGB particularly fulfilling as they guide visitors through exhibitions while facilitating fun, engaging, informative and critical discussions centred around the work on display. Prior knowledge of art history is not a requirement. However, volunteers must have a keen interest in the arts, be articulate and have good interpersonal skills. Docents will become a part of the NAGB team as they work closely with staff to ensure that the institution continues to function as a safe space where Bahamians from all walks of life can experience their history and culture through the visual arts and international visitors can appreciate the creative spirit of Bahamian art.

Gallery shot of Thierry Lamare’s “Love, Loss and Life”

Persons interested in participating in the Volunteer Docent Programme can contact Katrina Cartwright at [email protected] or call 328-5800. The NAGB is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm and on Sunday, from 12 noon-5pm.