By Robin Wander
There are different tours on different days that focus exclusively on the Rodin collection and the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden.
The outdoor art collection spans more than 100 years with the oldest pieces dating from Leland and Jane Stanford’s time. An early example is Antonio Frilli’s Faith and Menander, c. 1890; the Auguste Rodin works date from 1880-1900. Contemporary works include Bruce Beasley’s bronze Horizon II, 2006, and the plant installation titled The California Garden, 2002-2003, by Meg Webster.
A must-see work on the first-Sunday tour is Rodin’s Burghers of Calais, 1884-1885. Docents report that this piece generates a lot of discussion.
33-week basic training for docents
The Cantor Arts Center docents are all volunteers and function as an extension of the museum’s education department. The current docent corps at the Cantor includes about 60 active volunteers, some of whom have been with the program for more than 30 years.
Basic training for incoming docents is held every three years and runs parallel to the academic year, September to June. Class meets two days a week for 33 weeks and includes outside reading assignments, tour observations and practice-tours with selected tour groups. The next class of docents is scheduled to start in September 2013.
Training is collaboratively planned and taught by a team of Cantor Arts Center curators, staff and volunteers led by Rose Demir, the associate curator for education. A typical docent class has about 20 trainees who apply the previous winter/spring and are notified in June.
Basic training and its final individual tour-exam qualify a docent to give introductory tours at the Cantor Arts Center for groups of all ages. Docents giving the outdoor sculpture tour are well-established in the docent program and have participated in specific training sessions over several weeks in order to speak authoritatively about the outdoor collection.