Off the Wall: Meet the Docents, Mary Ellen Davenport

Welcome to Off the Wall. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.

Written while enjoying a cup of coffee.


There are people who look forward to spending their sunset years in the sunshine; it is my own retirement dream to await my death indoors, dragging strangers up dusty staircases while coughing up one of the most thrilling phrases in the English language: ‘It was on this spot…’ My fantasy is to one day become a docent.” -Sarah Vowell

Mary Ellen Davenport, Museum Docent

We love our docents. Each year, our volunteer docents lead thousands of visitors on complimentary tours and provide important information about our exhibitions and collections to curious minds. So for today’s blog, we’ve handed the reigns over to Mary Ellen. It’s nice to let her talk about herself for a change!

How long have you been a docent?

I have been a docent for six years, and have found that being a docent has brought many wonderful people into my life.

What first made you interested in volunteering at the FJJMA?

While attending an OLLI class at OU, I sat next to Lawana Henry, who was a docent in training at the time.  She suggested that I might enjoy being a docent when I told her that I had taught art in public schools for several years.

Do you have a favorite story or memory from your time as a docent?

A week or so ago I was privileged to take a group of preschool children on a tour of the museum.  During the tour, something happened that I had never experienced while giving a tour.  One by one, some of the children would walk along beside me and take my hand as we moved through the museum.  I hope that means they will want to come back to the museum.

Which work, collection, or exhibition has been your favorite at the FJJMA?

It’s difficult to name one piece as my favorite when there are so many that I love! The Adkins Collection is among my favorites.  One of the pieces that comes to mind from this collection is Rio Grande Gorge Near Taos by Ernest Blumenschein. We are fortunate to have this wonderful museum here in Norman.

What other hobbies do you have when you aren’t sharing art with visitors?

Some of my hobbies are reading, tutoring students who are learning English as a second language, and volunteering at my church.


Want to follow Mary Ellen’s lead? We’re always looking for wonderful people to add to our impressive lineup of museum docents.


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