Posted in Culture/History, General Interest, Victoria C Slotto

Cultural Connections–International Museum Day

“Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples”. Internation Council of Museums 

Image: George Andrews
Image: George Andrews

Yesterday the world community celebrated International Museum Day. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established this event to occur each year on or about May 18th. In 2013, 35,000 museums from 143 countries on five continents participated, welcoming guests to their venues, without charge.

The theme for this year’s celebration, as established by the ICOM is “Museum collections make connections.”

Until last year I had the great pleasure of serving as a docent at the Nevada Museum of Art (NMA), Nevada’s only accredited art museum. The role of the docent is, as the name implies, to lead the public in tours of the museum’s offerings, and to teach participants about various exhibits. This requires numerous hours of on-going training in the rotating exhibits and offers opportunities to meet (in the case of an art museum) artists, curators and collectors of art.

When I attended a National Docent Symposium a few years ago, I became more aware of how many types of museums were represented: those dealing with history, collections such as cars (the National Automobile Museum is here in Reno), zoos, botanical gardens, sports, entertainment, children discovery centers, occupations, science cultures…the list goes on and on.

Photo: Palm Springs Life
Photo: Palm Springs Life

I found the greatest joy in introducing children to the world of art—to watch them respond to the principles and elements of art such as color and texture, to learn to use art as a launching pad for story-telling and poetry, to learn to use their senses to jump into a painting and explore what it might taste like, smell like, feel like. I planned age-based activities and each tour was followed by an art experience.

In keeping with this year’s theme, museums offer a chance to experience other cultures and to understand the point of view of the forces behind the exhibits. They teach responsibility for the environment, diversity, and offer families the opportunity to share.

In honor of the spirit behind International Museum Day, please consider paying a visit to a museum of your choice. Perhaps the idea of becoming a docent will appeal to you if you are looking for a volunteer opportunity. Docents are educators, though it is not necessary to have a background in education, or even in your field of interest, thanks to the intense initial training program and on-going education.

It was hard for me to resign my position. It was a passion for me. But life circumstances change and sometimes the time commitment becomes unattainable. I find it dangerous to visit NMA now—I want to jump back into the role that is no longer realistic. But when I tour with friends or my husband, I find the docent in me taking over. I devise questions I would ask the school children, activities I would have them do.

To learn more about museums in your area just google “Museums (your town).” You will be surprised. And rewarded.

– Victoria Slotto

© 2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; photo credits as indicated above

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Tomorrow Victoria’s Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 


RN, former hospice nurse, kidney transplant survivor, spiritual seeker, novelist, poet—Victoria C. Slotto is the author of two novels: "Winter is Past" and "The Sin of His Father", a collection of poetry: "Jacaranda Rain," and a Kindle Single: "Beating the Odds--Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia, " all of which are available in e-book and print formats. Use the link on my blog or visit my website at to purchase. Thank you!

8 thoughts on “Cultural Connections–International Museum Day

  1. I love museums and art galleries. We have a few decent ones in Sheffield. I am also training to be a ‘docent’ tour guide at Wentworth Castle Heritage Trust, an historic estate of which I and my wife have been volunteers for the past two years. As I follow tours around, I am always inclined to ask questions ‘from prior knowledge’ which is cheeky I know, but I sort of know how you feel about going round the NMA, but the other way around, because I’m not yet ‘qualified’.

    I think the most important thing about becoming a guide in such places, is the motivation it gives to learn about the history of a period and particularly of the context in which works of art were created. I suppose you could argue that it is rather like a commentary on a poem and its making, which I used to do a lot in my early poetry writings. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of museums, Victoria.


  2. Yippee, John. So glad you are going the docent route. You will be an inspiration. And it is so rewarding. As a poet, you will find students (and adults) enjoy trying simple poetic forms. I used to use acrostic (the title of the piece), haiku and others. They had a lot of fun with it and were surprised to find their poetic abilities surfacing. Having them split into teams reduced any concern about failure. Have a wonderful time. Maybe someday I will be able to visit Sheffield and you can lead me through the castle.


  3. Museum work (and education) runs in my family; my sister was a curator and my mother is still a docent at the San Jose Historical Museum (must be more than 25 years now for her). I’m definitely going to pass this fine post along to them. I am now working at 2 museums, but I started as a VIVA (Volunteers In Visual Arts) presenter in my kids’ elementary school. “Making connections” is a good way to describe the work of relevance and revelation to which I aspire. (and it’s a lot more fun than answering a phone in a cubicle!)


  4. This is a wonderful post and I appreciate the work that you and docents do. Valuable for certain and rewarding for you as well. Some of my favorite childhood memories have to do with visiting museums. Thank you, Victoria. Well done.


  5. Thanks for such an inspiring post about the importance of museums, Victoria. 🙂 Like Jamie, some of my fondest memories, too, involve museums. I can imagine how hard it must have been to give up such a rewarding position and how tempting it is to fall back into that way of thinking when you visit there or similar places. Having been to some of the Smithsonian Museums at the National Mall, I could help but compare them with our own, kind of sad, small-town museum here in the city where I live. I think of how SO much of what museums *can* do is based on their budgets. Museums are important anywhere, but you can really tell what communities and societies value by looking at what’s in their museums. Again, thanks for this post. Making more people aware (connections, like you said) is key! 🙂


  6. And Corina…I’m smiling as I remember visits as a child to a small Southwest Museum in Pasadena, California where I grew up. There was a mummy there and my mother used to try to hide it from us with her skirt. Of course, that would be the first place we’d run to.


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