The Smithsonian SIDE of Life

Annual Docent Workshop on Feb. 29

Steve Reynolds, chair of the National Air and Space Museum Docent Council, invites current Smithsonian docents to attend the annual SIDE docent workshop. This year’s topic is Collaboration Opportunities Among SI Museums.

The Smithsonian Institution Docent Exchange, or SIDE, is a docent consortium organized and run by docents volunteering at the Smithsonian Institution. Meetings are held bi-monthly with the objective to improve docent-visitor interaction by providing docents with a forum for discussion of issues. Membership is open to every Smithsonian Docent Program in the Washington D.C. area, with two docents representing each program. Currently, the museums that participate are the Smithsonian Castle, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of African Art, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American History, Anacostia Community Museum, Freer|Sackler Galleries, National Museum of Natural History, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Portrait Gallery, and National Postal Museum.

Side workshop presentation

Dr. Michelle Edwards, currently Docent Coordinator at NMAAHC at 2018 SIDE Workshop
(Photo by Richard Blome, Natural History Docent and SIDE Representative)

The highlight of SIDE’s year is its annual Workshop, which is open to all Smithsonian docents. The Workshop, structured like a symposium, is a key forum for the exchange of ideas to improve the quality of every docent program. Past topics have included Visitors With Special Needs and Enriching Visitor Experience With Multimedia and Addressing Difficult Topics. This year’s topic is Collaboration Opportunities Among SI Museums. The first goal of the Smithsonian Strategic Plan is Be One Smithsonian. An element under that goal states, “We will work together as One Smithsonian to amplify the power of the stories we tell, increasing both our reach and our impact.” The aim of this year’s SIDE Workshop is to explore ways to support this institution-wide goal.

Audience at workshop

Audience during breakout session at 2019 Workshop (Photo by Richard Blome, Natural History Docent and SIDE Representative)

The 2020 Workshop will be held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, February 29th. (Registration is required.) The first session will be a presentation and panel discussion led by Joanna Marsh, Deputy Education Chair of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). She will describe the SAAM Re:Frame project. This innovative project brings together SAAM art historians and researchers from across the Smithsonian, including zoologists, geologists, musicologists, and astronomers, to explore the many meanings within a work of art. The concept of developing pan-institutional projects to foster collaboration across disciplines has great potential to reach a wide range of audiences. It allows us to explore unexpected connections between Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (i.e. STEAM). Following the opening session participants will divide into breakout sessions to brainstorm opportunities to apply the Re:Frame concept to other collaborative projects that encompass the full range of Smithsonian disciplines.

Registration for this year’s SIDE Workshop is now open! For more information and to purchase tickets ($12), please visit https://sidocents.eventbrite.com. PLEASE NOTE: This workshop is for current Smithsonian Docents ONLY.

Steve Reynolds has loved flying for as long as he can remember. His mother use to say his third word after “Mama” and “Dada” was “airplane”. He even timed his retirement so he could start volunteering at NASM when UHC opened in 2003!

Posted: 18 February 2020
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