Volunteer Award Winner:
Mary Ann DeMattia
Docent - 2005
For the last 20 years, Mary Ann DeMattia has delighted in wholeheartedly serving the DIA through her work on the Docent Committee. Possessing a lifelong commitment to arts education, she began volunteering at the museum in 1984, and was immediately impressed by the spirit of the people she was able to work with. “Docents, as well as all volunteers, are intelligent, compassionate, so free with their knowledge and information, and they care so much about the museum. I’ve never met people like these in my life!”
Mary Ann has recently served on the Docent Board as program chairman, associate representative for two years, and Co-chairman of the School Letter Writing Contest, which she is chairing this year. She has also worked on several Art & Flowers festivals.
Docent Chairman Judy Hicks says Mary Ann “is really a take-charge person who doesn’t do anything halfheartedly!” Happy to share her energy and enthusiasm, Mary Ann has given countless tours to a wide range of museum visitors in many of the collections, including the African, Native American/pre-Columbian, American, Modern, Four Continents, Rivera Court, and European collections. She is hard-pressed to remember all the special exhibitions she has toured (one of her favorite things about being a docent), but she fondly recalls the Chandler/Pohrt Collection of Native American Art, the Paine-Webber Collection of Contemporary Art, the Art of Henry Ossawa Tanner, and the Gold of Africa.
To Mary Ann being a docent means learning. “Docent means teacher, and I always hope the children learn something when they come to the museum, but I’m constantly learning too – from everyone I tour.”
As a native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mary Ann didn’t come to Michigan until she enrolled at Marygrove College. When she saw what our winters are like she questioned whether she should have gone to the University of Hawaii, but fortunately for all of us she stayed in the state, eventually receiving her B.A. in Fine Arts and her M.A. in Art Education.
Mary Ann is married to Robert Gorlin, and has daughters Amy, Margaret and Elizabeth, stepchildren Andrew, Stella and David, and five grandchildren whom she doesn’t get to see as often as she’d like.
Lastly, Mary Ann leaves other volunteers with these words of advice: “Don’t be surprised if you come away (from the DIA) feeling you’ve received more than you’ve given.”
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