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WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

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Friday, May 7, 2021

A Beautiful Friendship

We have asked our Docents to share some of their favorite stories from their time at WAM, in honor of the Docent program's 50th anniversary! Today, Shelley Rodman tells the story of a friendship that began with a conversation in the WAM Galleries.

Sometimes, our most important contributions and memorable experiences as docents isn't about the art.


Four women and a toddler smiling at a cafe table; the toddler (far left, held by her mother) and young woman (right, standing between her mother and godmother) both have Down Syndrome.
From left to right: Baby Abby, Caroline, Shelley, Tessa, and Tina

I was managing the Arms and Armor Art Cart. Caroline (to my left in this photo) came into the room and she had her baby in a front carrier. I couldn't see the baby's face, she was nuzzled into her mom. Caroline said she loved bringing her baby into the museum. She said that it is an inviting and quiet place where she can walk around, enjoy the art and her baby can rest or also enjoy being carried through the galleries.

Baby Abby woke up while we were talking and I recognized that she has Down syndrome. Before I could say anything, Caroline said, "This is my daughter Abby. She has Down syndrome."

I responded that my goddaughter, Tessa, (to my right in this photo), has Down syndrome and she is a well-rounded, independently-living and working young adult.

Caroline's eyes watered and she said, "You're the first person who has shared any good news for Abby's future." She so appreciated hearing more about my relationship with Tessa and about Tessa's education, travels, can-do attitude and great sense of humor. I said I would touch base with Tessa's mom, my dear friend Tina, and maybe we could arrange a meeting.

And here we all are, months later at the WAM cafe, celebrating Tina's birthday and the friendship that developed between Tina and Caroline, Tessa and Abby.

-- Shelley Rodman, WAM Docent
May 7, 2021

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