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An Open Thank You Note to the DeYoung Museum Doing & Viewing Arts Docents

Doing and Viewing Art at the DeYoung Museum was an incredible program offered here in San Francisco that, sadly, came to an end last weekend after a 35 year run.  In the program, kids were led on tours of the museum by incredibly talented docents.  After the tour they worked on an art project informed by the tour, led by equally incredibly talented teaching artists.

People often ask what we think our kids aged six, four, and two get out of visits to the DeYoung.  I think the following open thank you note to the Doing and Viewing Art docents sums it up pretty nicely.

To the DeYoung Doing & Viewing Art Docents:

Thank you so much for making Doing & Viewing Art such an extraordinary experience for our three kids!  You were what made the program great, and it won’t be the same without you!
It was your confident, and inclusive tours of the museum that inspired our kids to be confident in the museum.  It was your love of the art that seeded our kids’ love for art.  Your inclusion of every kid, both through asking questions, and listening to their answers helped our kids think about art, and develop the ability to talk about art as well.  Your mindfulness and complete presence in each moment spent with the kids made them feel like their thoughts were truly valued.

It was a pleasure to watch each of our kids grow every time they had the chance to spend time with you.  We treasure the memory of the weekend our four-year-old son began answering questions for the first time on the tour.  Our oldest daughter, who already aspired to be an artist, got to see so many other kinds of art; got to learn so much about them; and built her confidence in her abilities even further through the mantra Lynette and the kids repeated before parting, ‘Everything I do is right…because I am the artist!’.  Our youngest daughter  wasn’t walking for her first several Doing & Viewing Art tours, and wasn’t necessarily awake either.  Still, she traveled with the other kids, strapped to my chest, absorbing everything you said on the tours.  Finally, when she was ready to get down and experience the museum from the ground up, she blended in with the tours, took in the art, and paid rapt attention.  For her the world before your tours doesn’t exist.

Thanks to you, our kids’ minds and attitudes exist in the state that should be proper to all museum visitors: they feel like the DeYoung is their museum, and like the art is their art.  They’re always excited to go to the museum.  Rather than being in awe of the space, or bored by going to a place that’s ‘not intended for them,’ they move confidently through the museum browsing from exhibit to exhibit.   They truly appreciate the DeYoung, and it’s all your fault!

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