Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Art Education

First Advisor

Dr. Pamela Harris Lawton

Second Advisor

Dr. Sara Wilson McKay

Third Advisor

Dr. Carissa DiCindio

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Naff


With visitors numbering in the millions, museums provide numerous entry points for attendees to engage with the objects in their care, including offering tours of their collections. Looking specifically at art museums, many institutions utilize volunteers to facilitate these guided looking experiences. Considerable research within the field of museum education focuses on the qualities of effective touring and methods and theories to support these endeavors. However, there is a lack of research focusing on the docent coordinators who oversee these volunteer guides. This study utilizes interpretive phenomenological analysis to explore perceptions of encyclopedic art museum docent coordinators concerning their preparation and support for teaching and managing volunteer gallery guides/docents. Findings from this study suggest a complex lifeworld with multiple stakeholder expectations impacting seven docent coordinators’ understandings of their professional identity, relationships, and abilities. Participants described numerous balancing acts, including bridging the pedagogical and the art historical, theory and practice, visitor needs and VGG/Ds needs, and the personal and the professional. At times, this balancing act created considerable stress, whether from relationship dynamics or anxiety over volunteer gallery guide/docent insensitivity as docent coordinators advanced inclusive practices in the art museum. Results offer suggestions for future research and the Museological, Pedagogical, Content Knowledge model (M-PCK), which illustrates museum educators' domains of knowledge.


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