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Posted on September 3, 2020 at 4:00 PM by Brooke Rogers

docent /ˈdōsənt/ noun: a person who acts as a guide, typically on a voluntary basis, in a museum, art gallery, or zoo.

University Museums depends upon a group of knowledgeable, enthusiastic and skilled group of docents to give tours of exhibitions and collections to students, faculty and staff, children on school field trips, and the many visitors to the Iowa State campus. They are a vital part of University Museums’ mission of “fostering understanding and delight in the visual arts.”

Eunmi Park is an excellent example of how docents bring unique perspectives and skills to the University Museums’ team. Prior to becoming a docent, Park studied art marketing and art history at Kingston University in London, UK and she then worked at a gallery as a curator in Seoul, South Korea. Shortly after her moving to Ames with her family, Park decided to devote more time to learning about art and sharing that interest with others which led her to the University Museums.

One of Park’s favorite works of art in the Art on Campus collection is Giniro-no-kigou (Silver Code), which is located in Stephens Auditorium and covers the stage before performances. “I couldn’t forget the curtain when I first saw it, waiting for my daughter’s ballet performance,” Park said. “The curtain wall caught my eye, not only its huge size but also heavy materials. If I have a chance to talk with the artist who made it, I want to know how they put materials on the curtain and what thoughts did they have in mind when they made it.”

ABOVE: Giniro-no-kigou (Silver Code), 1976 by Ryokichi Mukai. Manufacturered by Kawashima Textile Mills. Located in C.Y. Stephens Auditorium. Commissioned by J.W. (Bill) and Dorothy Fisher for Iowa State University’s C.Y. Stephens Auditorium. U2013.52

Park also finds creativity in the numerous artist included in the University Museums’ collection “The current exhibition at the Brunnier Art Museum, Contemplate Japan, has a sophisticated glass kimono sculpture,” she said in reference to one of the sculptures by Karen LaMonte, which are on loan from the artist for the Contemplate Japan exhibition. “It is fascinatingly beautiful on first sight. Visitors will be interested to know how the artist examined Asian culture through a different cultural lens."

Park is proud to be a docent for University Museums and wants visitors to know the full docent team works hard to prepare for tours. “We commit to study art [in order] to deliver correct information to the public. Our docent meetings foster intellectual research, and it is beneficial to broaden my knowledge and awakens thinking of art. A docent is not only delivering information, they are also a qualified researcher and educator.”

“I have committed myself to study about exhibitions and collections. Whenever I go to campus, I invite myself to take a minute to look closely and carefully.”

Without the help of docents, University Museums could not fully nurture knowledge and appreciation of the collections, museum spaces and be an education resource for the university. Thank you, Eunmi, for your generosity of time, spirit and passion for learning and teaching about the art in our collection!

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