Meet a member of the Community Docent team

Wed, Mar 5, 2008

Community Docent Gisela

Name:
Gisela Josenhans

Why did you become a docent?: If I confess that I have been a docent since 1977, then I don't have to tell you that I absolutely love what I am doing at both the Wexner Center and the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA).

While our three children were growing up I followed the motto: “Most women volunteer to do too much. Some do it by volunteering.” Gradually, I've shed nearly all of the different hats that have kept me so busy. And what has remained my one big passion? Being a docent—one of the various roles that one can pursue to be a museum educator, with all its joys, anxieties, and rewards.

Any memorable groups?: Just yesterday, I went out to a school for the CMA. Despite Map-Quest I drove 30 minutes through an unfamiliar neighborhood asking for directions from six different people to finally arrive at the school 15 minutes late. I had practiced with the very newly acquired digital projector, so when the two classroom teachers received me calmly and the 5th grade class was seated, I had nothing but fun in preparing the students for their visit. Just like after a successful tour - you drive home on cloud nine.

What have you learned?: Today at the Wexner Center, I will work with an undergraduate OSU student group in three very different exhibits. One exhibition presents a particular challenge for me--Solitaire. I had thought after 30 years I'd learned to deal with nudity and other provocative themes—but I still have butterflies in my stomach and the only way to get rid of them is to jump in with both feet!

All of the docents' art experiences and learning continually connect and re-connect with our daily lives. My children, grandchildren, and my husband are always exposed to my museum stories—and we very often wind up in places seeking out more art related experiences because of this.

Why do you like being a docent?: The companionship and lifelong friends that have sprung forth and developed out of the learning we do together, the sharing of comparisons and experiences after a tour, and the openings of new exhibits. We know each other. Not always personally since there are 160 docents at the CMA and an ever-changing student group at the Wexner Center—but we are tied together by the common concerns of a docent: What type of group is coming? How have the galleries changed? How shall we coordinate our groups in the galleries together? What experiences did you have on your last tour? Who oversees all of this? Who takes care of our concerns, big and small? The fabulous staffs of the education departments of both institutions do. I love my docent friends. We all stand up for each other to help out. The student docents at the Wexner Center are my other joy. They could be my children!—but they bring wonderful youth and enthusiasm. Why should people come take a tour with a docent at the Wex?: Art has become separated from our busy lives. Come join a tour. It is amazing how it enriches your emotions—you may fall in love with or even get angry at the art presented. Either way, you will always walk away wondering: Art is life, life is art?