If your child was one of the 25,000 students who visits the Los Angeles County Museum of Art each year, he or she was treated to a docent tour. One of those docents is Patsy Palmer, who gives a tour to a group of students 14 times during the school year.
The Windsor Square resident is one of 300 docents for the museum. The sixth through 12th graders that may join her tour visit only a few works of art during the 90-minute visit that has as its theme “Heroes, Gods, Myths and Legends.”
“Each tour is limited to 10 students, and we may spend 20 minutes at each artwork. For instance, they learn about mythology when we view the Flight of Europa and the Triumph of Neptune.
“We engage the students in conversation, and encourage them to really think about what they are seeing.”
Becoming a docent requires a year of training and a second year as a provisional. “It’s a real commitment,” she said.
Born and raised in Hancock Park, she started her docent volunteer role while a member of the Junior League in the 1960s. She took a leave of absence to get a graduate degree in analytical child psychology. During this time she and her husband Arnold raised four sons David, Michael, Andrew and Dan.
It was in 2001 that Patsy returned to the “job” she loved. In addition to docenting, she arranges for speakers for the enrichment lectures that docents must attend. She also helps trains docents-to-be.
“Patsy Palmer is a wonderful asset to our Docent Council,” said Council secretary Elizabeth Reeves. “As a long time docent and a life-long resident of our community, Patsy is filled with wonderful stories and information about LACMA. On her tour, she uses objects in the collection to explore the beliefs, principles, and concerns of various cultures.
“In addition to touring, Patsy contributes to the organization of the Docent Council. Most recently she coordinated the Docent Continuing Education program,” Reeves added. Patsy is also planning to volunteer as an “Ask Me” guide once a month to assist visitors new to the museum.
“There is still so much to learn,” says the slim energetic brunette.