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Expert Profile


David Figiel






Position Type:

Kansas City


United States of America

Years in the field:

16 – 20 Years

Areas of Expertise

Docent Programs, Education, Outreach and Public Engagement, Partnerships, Project Management, Volunteer Programs


4250 Locust Street

Kansas City, MO 64110





Manager, Education Volunteers, January 2015-October 2020

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO

  • Recruited, managed, and trained 135 docents, 60 museum guides and supervised one staff person
  • Took a docent program that was coming out of conflict and divisiveness and created a sense of shared values and respect
  • Made DEAI values a central component in docent training
  • Created a Docent Training Manual centered on innovative, experiential teaching practices
  • Worked closely with the Teachers Advisory Board (TAB) to create student-centered, constructivist-based school tours
  • Recently created three new dynamic virtual school tours with a small team of school program educators and teacher
  • Oversaw formative and summative evaluation of the docent program
  • Created innovative tours for people who are blind and who have memory loss


Gallery Teaching Trainer, Docent, April 2012-January 2015

Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, IL

  • Developed and headed-up eight-week training courses for a group of 50 new and experienced docents
  • Advised education staff concerning learner-centered methodologies
  • Oversaw the Object File project, a resource for docents and educators
  • Led various groups (youth and adults) on tours of the permanent collection


Curator of Education, August 2005-January 2006

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN

  • Developed and oversaw all aspects of adult, school, youth, and family programming
  • Oversaw an annual budget of $250,000
  • Supervised a staff of three and docent corps of 50
  • Trained docents using traditional and innovative teaching methodologies
  • Curated exhibitions in the museum’s Education Gallery


Manager of the Gallery Instructor (Docent) Program,

August 2001-October 2003

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

  • Developed and implemented introductory and ongoing, innovative educational training for Gallery Instructors (docents)
  • Supervised and supported daily activities of 140 Gallery Instructors (GIs)
  • Oversaw budgets for the GI program and for the National Docent Symposium 2005
  • Organized regular recruitment of new GIs
  • Developed effective assessment tools for the GI program


Museum Educator for Teacher Services, September 1999-August 2001

Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY

  • Developed and administered a wide variety of teacher workshops, teacher development programs, and open houses while closely working with New York City School teachers
  • Created specialized pre-visit and post-visit materials, collection manuals, and other publications that made curriculum connections and that addressed NY Public School Learning Standards
  • Led daily cross-collection tours to school groups in 2nd through 12th grades
  • Worked closely with curators and other staff to develop programs
  • Assisted in the administration of “Teaching Lab” for BMA educators


Community Outreach Coordinator, August 1997-October 1998

School Tour Coordinator, February 1997-August 1997

Lecturer, December 1996-August 2001

The Cloisters Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

  • Independently developed and administered outreach program to community organizations and schools in northern Manhattan
  • Conducted training courses for museum docents
  • Scheduled school group visits
  • Led public and private tours of the collection on and off-site


Graduate Intern, May 1990-September 1990

Sculpture Department, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

  • Gained invaluable overview of a premier museum’s operations





M.A., History of Art, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 1993


B.A., History of Art, Wayne State University, Detroit MI 1985





Reimagining Tours for People Who are Blind and Who Have Low Vision National Docent Symposium, October 2019

Reimagining Tours for People Who are Blind and Who Have Low Vision NAEA Conference, March 2019

Creating Bridges between Literacy and Visual Literacy

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., April 2002

Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME , January 2002

Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME, October 2001



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