I am distressed to hear that the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden eliminated its docent program [“Hirshhorn dismisses its longtime docents,” Style, Nov. 1] and replaced the docents with interns. I would be hard-pressed to find individuals more dedicated to a museum than its docents. Interns come and go; docents participate for the love of a collection and the desire to expand visitors’ experiences with it. This dedication is a large and lasting element of what docents impart to an audience.
Was the Hirshhorn’s rationale a suspicion that the pool of docents gets stale and loses its ability to inspire over time? It’s the museum’s obligation and reward to keep docents educated and their information current, so the argument that fresh blood is needed is spurious. If guided tours are no longer popular, allow docents to rove the galleries, clearly identified as available to answer questions.
I implore Smithsonian management to rethink letting the museum drop this program. The Smithsonian is the United States’ national museum and as such serves as a guide to museums throughout our nation.
Linda Bell, Nairobi