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Celebrating student docents

Celebrating student docents

As part of Queen’s 175th anniversary, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre is celebrating the student volunteer docents at the heart of its outreach programs.

Docents offer gallery tours, support creative studio sessions, expand gallery outreach, and assist with collections.

Since 1980, almost 700 Queen’s students, from a range of disciplines, have participated in the student docent program at the Agnes.

Fynn Leitch

[Fynn Leitch]
Fynn Leitch, Artsci’03, MA'06 (Art History)
Curator, Art Gallery of Peterborough
Student docent, 2002 to 2003

Fynn Leitch addresses the crowd at the opening of Arthur Shilling: The Final Works at the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

“When I first applied, I didn’t even know what a docent was!” Ms. Leitch says. “It was my first experience working in a real gallery and offered a window into the way exhibitions are put together and presented for the public. I made lifelong friendships and gained valuable insight on engagement, education, and volunteer management that I use to this day.”

Ms. Leitch has been curator of the Art Gallery of Peterborough since 2014. “I love developing new exhibitions with amazing contemporary artists as well as managing the holdings of the permanent collection.” She is currently working on an exhibition of works by Anne and Carl Beam from the gallery’s permanent collection. She is also a contributor to a new publication on the work of artist Roula Partheniou, due out February 2017.

Colin Wiginton

[Colin Wiginton]
Colin Wiginton, Artsci’88 (Art History, Drama)
Cultural Director, Cultural Services, City of Kingston
Student docent, 1987 to 1989

“Volunteering as a docent at the Agnes proved to be a formative experience for me,” says Mr. Wiginton. “I always loved the visual arts, museums, and performing and being a docent allowed me to combine these passions in ways that were inspiring to me and helped me to inspire others. It also set me on a career path I never thought possible and, as a result, I got to work in public galleries for more than 20 years. A few years ago, I changed tracks and have had to apply my experience in new ways as a civil servant but the skills I first learned as a docent continue to serve me well, as someone who has the ability to look at the world with a critical eye, engage people in thoughtful discussion, read an audience and seek out opportunities for shared learning. All things that have served me well over the years.”

Mr. Wiginton’s recent projects include the creation of the Kingston culture map, an integrated cultural heritage and cultural tourism strategy, and the redevelopment of a wthcentury distillery building into the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, an arts cluster providing a home to numerous artists and arts organizations. His current priorities include implementing the City of Kingston’s inaugural public art master plan and working on marking Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017 in Kingston. This includes a major focus on connecting to, and strengthening relations with, Kingston’s urban Aboriginal community.

You can read more student docent profiles on the Agnes website.

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 4-2016]