Whatcom Magazine

Advocates and docents support Whatcom Museum

Whatcom Museum members can volunteer to support the museum’s art and history programs in two ways. They can join Whatcom Museum Advocates and help with fundraisers, monthly programs and other events; and they can apply to become a docent to lead exhibit tours.

It wasn’t long ago that Whatcom Museum Advocates was known as Whatcom Museum Guild, and guild members were called docents. That has changed, so not all advocates are docents and not all docents are advocates. But they all help the museum.

Whatcom Museum Advocates: Any museum member can join the Advocates by paying an extra $20 annual fee. Advocates raise money for Whatcom Museum Foundation through their annual Tag Sale. Advocates also help at exhibit openings and other museum events, help with museum mailings, decorate Old City Hall for the holidays, and organize free public presentations about history and art.

“We try to tailor the programs to the museum’s mission,” says Leslie Nordtvedt, co-chair of the Advocates. “All of us believe in the mission of the museum and it’s place in the community.”

Advocates also organize day trips to other museums and art venues. The trips are for Advocates, but other museum members can participate if there are openings. About 90 people are Advocates.

To join Whatcom Museum Advocates, contact Althea Harris, museum membership and development manager, at 360-778-8939 or alharris@cob.org.

Whatcom Museum docents: Museum members who want to become docents must apply, be interviewed and accepted, and undergo training once a week for three months. They also must attend workshops before new exhibits open and pay $20 annual dues, and are asked to make a one-year commitment.

Docents lead tours of exhibits and provide the public information about the museum’s other buildings. About 24 people are docents.

“We’re the face of the museum,” says Marilyn Burns, the museum’s docent educator.

Burns started the docent program after moving to Bellingham shortly before the museum opened its Lightcatcher building in 2009.

People interested in becoming a docent should contact Burns at 360-778-8938 or mlburns@cob.org.