Joan Berndt Discusses Being a Docent

OMAH is featuring members, volunteers, donors, volunteers,and artists on the blog. This post's feature is Joan Berndt. She is a volunteer and a member of OMAH. Joan Berndt has been a docent at the Orillia museum of art & History since 2017.

I come in once every other week to volunteer as a docent. I go around and review each exhibition and sometimes I am asked to do some docent cards which you can create and work with as a volunteer. I kind of stay in the background when there are visitors to not interfere with their enjoyment and allow them to talk to each other and look at the stuff. They might ask a question so I’m here to help them through that. I like to be a resource for them.

Brianne has created a very good description of how to make docent cards, showing us even how to read them as a viewer which helps us when we write them up. It’s background information. Making the docent cards has changed the way I see art galleries now. I look at a painting longer, I always had the habit of saying “oh I like that, on to the next one”, so I’m now spending more time looking at them much more seriously.

I would recommend being a docent. Galleries cannot really run without volunteers, there are only so many things you can do. It’s a very useful job and helps people experience the gallery better. I like volunteering at OMAH because they’re young people who are very creative, very enthusiastic and very supportive of volunteers and that is key. It’s kind of exciting for me at my age, in my 80’s, to be working with young people who are so keen and so skilled.

To learn more about becoming a volunteer with OMAH, click here. If you would like your OMAH story featured on our website, please email