Art: Docents' Duties

Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art, the No. 1 U.S. showroom of contemporary painting, attracts 550,000 paying customers a year. There, pictures and public eye each other uneasily, in an air-conditioned atmosphere of mutual distrust. To arbitrate the silent battle of wills that usually ensues, the museum employs three well-primed guides whom it calls docents (rhymes with no sense). The docents talk and talkĀ—a bit nervously.

They are often interrupted, and the questions are apt to be tough ones. The museum last week had on sale an intriguing pamphlet entitled The Questioning Public, which told something of what the docents are up against.


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