The "Kyohaku Navigators" docent program at the Kyoto National Museum promotes visitor engagement through a variety of activities designed to stimulate interest and concern for cultural properties. The program began in 2014 with the opening of the Heisei Chishinkan Wing.
Kyohaku Navigators engage in the following activities:
1) Staffing the "Hands-on Carts" (hands-on experience booths set up throughout the museum that engage with visitors to teach basic information about Japanese art)
2) Participating in workshops held during special exhibitions to help visitors better understand and appreciate the works on view
3) Answering visitors' basic questions about the museum
4) Helping visitors find informational reference materials available in the museum
The Kyoto National Museum works with elementary and junior high schools in Kyoto City to offer Cultural Properties School Outreach Classes lead by volunteer "Cultural Property Sommeliers." The program's Cultural Property Sommeliers are undergraduate and graduate students pursuing specialized study in art history, cultural heritage conservation, Japanese literature, education, or other relevant fields. Currently these volunteers serve as instructors and supporting instructors for the outreach classes, working with the museum's staff and researchers to develop stimulating lecture plans and materials.
Cultural Property Sommeliers attend training sessions two to three times a month to gain in-depth knowledge about artworks from Kyoto National Museum curators. This training includes discussions on what kind of information to communicate to children and practical techniques for doing so. The museum also works closely with teachers to adjust content to the educational needs of the school.
The goal of Cultural Property Sommeliers is to stimulate the children's interest and curiosity rather than simply to convey information.