The Mary Beth Smith Docent Program

The Mary Beth Smith Docent Program

Around the Museum

Mary Beth Smith joined the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Docent program in 2006, becoming a valued long-term volunteer, and a favorite guide among Museum visitors of all ages. Her generosity of spirit and enthusiasm for modern and contemporary art and Kemper Museum led to a desire to honor her memory. As a result, the Scott and Mary Beth Smith family will graciously sponsor the Museum’s Docent Program for the next three years.

“This very generous gift will be of enormous benefit to docents and the thousands of school children and adults who come through the Museum each year to be inspired and engaged,” said Barbara O’Brien, executive director of the Museum. “Docents are the Museum’s most valued ambassadors, taking the time to learn about exhibitions, the Permanent Collection, artists, and techniques to make visitors feel comfortable sharing reactions to the art they observe.”

Comments from Scott Smith: “When Mary Beth was rediagnosed— about 10 years ago—one of the first activities she undertook was the Kemper Museum’s Docent training program. I think it became a real symbol to her and to her friends and family that she wasn’t going to let her condition identify her, define her, or constrain her. Over 10 years, her education and experience opened up the world of art—not just contemporary art. On our family’s cultural activities, it had a huge impact on the exhibitions we attended, the vacations we took, what we did on trips to other cities, the books we read, and discussions we held. Finally, it was important to her because she so thoroughly loved the act of giving tours and being with the students she guided. Mary Beth felt that 8, 9, and 10 year-old children are the perfect audience for contemporary art. I can’t remember a single tour that she gave that she didn’t have some great anecdote of a student’s reaction to the art, bringing their own experiences to the interpretation of the art.”

“So, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mary Beth than to support the advancement and growth of the Docent and outreach program at Kemper Museum. Thank you for everything that you do as part of that effort, and we look forward to being your continuing partner.”