Museum Education and Development


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this presentation on Museum Education has been developed by me while working in a govt. non-profit organization. cover photo: collected from V&A Museum module provided to a member of my organization; this project was in connection with an in-service training at V&A but the report was solely prepared by myself and was in common interest.

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Museum Education and Development

  1. 1. Museum: A Learning Centre Engaging the Audience Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  2. 2. What is a Museum? Swagata Mukhopadhyay A museum is an organization that is vested with the responsibility of upkeep of the collection of artefacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. The continuing acceleration in the digitization of information, combined with the increasing capacity of digital information storage, is causing the traditional model of museums (i.e. as static “collections of collections” of three- dimensional specimens and artefacts) to expand to include virtual exhibits and high-resolution images of their collections for perusal, study, and exploration from any place with Internet connectivity.
  3. 3. What is Museum Education? Swagata Mukhopadhyay A Museum is not an educational institution in the formal sense rather is in its broader sense of the word. Museum can offer an educational experience across a wide range of variables. The meaning of museum education is that museums provide a learning situation in which the visitors experience learning which generally involves attending to an object, a display, label, person, element or some mental construct of these. The data a visitor receives during a museum visit tends to bear a ‘contextual map’. The museum visit represents a collection of experiences rather than a single unitary phenomenon. These experiences will become embedded in memory altogether with the result that any one facet of these experiences can facilitate the recapitulation of the entire experience. Thus Museums are rather a source of intellectual stimulation and entertainment.
  4. 4. Comparison of Formal Education and Learning in Museum Options Academic Learning Museum Learning Free Choice None Yes Basis of Lessons Text Objects Sense s Most Used Oral Visual Curriculum Syllabus-bound Personal Experience Formal Appraisal Yes None Time-Schedule Yes No Learning Linear non-spontaneous Prompt, comprehensive and miscellaneous Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  5. 5. Changing role of Museum Swagata Mukhopadhyay Initially museums were personal curio collection of royalties and nobilities and access to these collections was a prerogative of the same and some noted scholars. Nevertheless two epoch- making events in World History, i.e. American war of Independence (1776) and French Revolution (1789) resulted into the declaration of Human & Civil Rights which subsequently opened new vista for the development of education and culture.This new development further intensified the collection of objects of art and culture and a gradual increase in public access to museum collections. Education was put as one of the major function of museums.
  6. 6. ICOM’s Definition of Museum Swagata Mukhopadhyay A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.
  7. 7. American Association of Museums defines a Museum as Swagata Mukhopadhyay This author defines a museum as a service provider for the spread of knowledge.
  8. 8. Thus, conspicuously there are three distinctive accountabilities of a Museum: 1. Educational 2. Social 3. Entertainment Of which Educational accountability is prime and most prominent Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  9. 9. Education is defined as the process of experience, generally called learning which brings in desirable changes in human behaviour; with respect to knowledge, outstanding skill and attitude. Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  10. 10. Capable to cater to different audiences Digital Learning Gallery Interpretation Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  11. 11. Best Practices those can be adopted as means to impart Education and Knowledge  Label  Gallery Interpretation  Visitor Survey: Assessment and implementation of museum plan.  Audience Management: Visitor friendly watch & ward staff  Programme for Community Learning (Family, Children, Adult, Disabled etc.)  Reception: Physical and Intellectual orientation  Information Management: Signage, map, info volunteer etc.  Practical Wing: Pottery, Photography, Musical or Art workshops/studios  PR tool, Publication & Museum Shop Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  12. 12. Key tools for Educating and Engaging Audiences Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  13. 13. Modes of Learning in Museum Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  14. 14. EDUCATION CAN BE IMAPRTED THROUGH: Swagata Mukhopadhyay Exhibition Gallery Talk/ Guided Tour Object / Diorama Label Program mes for differently abled visitors Electronic technolog y Publicatio n & Research Outreach Program mes: Loan kits, Mobile Exhibition Activities for children
  15. 15. Most of the Indian museums are following the same old dowdy mode of label writing which needs to change immediately. As prevailing in some leading international museums, they have an entire separate division for Label Writing in a very innovative manner. Label is the direct most source of interpretation of exhibits to a visitor. Naturally it needs to be presented very precise yet stylishly. The colour combination, font and text should be very innovative but brief and simple at the same time. So that it interests young, adult and senior visitors alike. The idea of Label Book also seemed very innovative. To avoid the monotony or even to draw the attention of (especially curious)visitors towards a gallery or particular exhibit the use of label book can be very unique. This label book should be spiral-bound and kept in a space which is easily noticeable to the visitors like near visitors’ bench or the introductory label. Under the prevailing circumstance, museologists and experts in the field may concentrate on improving the allover arrangement of label for a better interpretation of objects to the visitors. Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  16. 16. Development Principles i)Variety ii) Focus iii) Extension iv) Participation Strategic Aims i) Digital interpretation ii)Audio-tours iii) Access for Visitors with disabilities Categorized Gallery Planning Swagata Mukhopadhyay
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  18. 18. Variety: Interpretation promotes learning by offering a variety of ways into the collections that appeal to visitors of different ages and backgrounds. Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  19. 19. Focus: The primary purpose of gallery interpretation is to help visitors engage with the Museum’s collections on-site; it should be available alongside the objects and galleries that it refers to. Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  20. 20. Participation: Visitors’ voices are core both in the development of the interpretation and in the continued life of galleries after opening. Opportunities for dialogue and consultation with visitors are actively sought. Swagata Mukhopadhyay
  21. 21. Balance: Interpretation should be sensitive to the objects, complementing rather than overwhelming them. It should be presented in a style that is in keeping with the gallery design. Swagata Mukhopadhyay
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  26. 26. Swagata Mukhopadhyay G-Goal: The goal of museum as a centre of Education is to attract as much audience as it can reach- out to – Nationally and Globally – and make them aware of their heritage and culture. R-Reality: Present Indian museums are not fully utilizing its capacity as an informal educational institution O-Option: to identify its strength which are already available with them and put the same into practice. Also it can considerably publicize its activity and potency through proper channel. W-Way-forward: The foremost function of a modern museum is to utilise the objects of the past as tools to generate knowledge and thereby enlighten the minds of the public. G-R-O-W model
  27. 27. Independent Departments and Learning Centre Swagata Mukhopadhyay Engaging students of related discipline as well as public, conducting research programs and teaching are some key accountability of modern museums. Separate wings should be introduced to effectively carry-out such functions. Apart from this workshops and studios can be set up to involve students and other visitors as well as for their hands-on experience. The necessity of learning is, one, to engage the visitors more closely with the collection in order to increase audience and attract new audiences. Secondly, this way a museum will successfully be able to raise its profile and visibility. And finally it will generate awareness regarding art, culture and heritage among the populace.
  28. 28. Why and How to implement the policies regarding Learning Centers in Museum Swagata Mukhopadhyay In order to meet this requisition a museum must identify the types of audiences it will provide its services to. Broadly, there can be visitors like specialists, artists as well as people from creative industry, students, personally curious and enthusiasts or people who will visit museum without any definite purpose in mind or just for the sake of visiting. Whoever the audience is their purpose for coming into the museum can be such:  Knowledge  Skills  Pleasure  Social experience  Motivated by curiosity and internal incentives  To gaingeneral experience, not restricted by conventional subject boundaries.  Outside their own area of expertise they will be novice learners The kinds of events that can be arranged for engaging museum audiences in learning are: Informal Talk or tour, film, performance demonstration, music, lecture or interview, study day or seminar, conference and symposia, course and most importantly practical workshop or Master Classes.
  29. 29. Publication Swagata Mukhopadhyay Publication and exhibition are the two salient facets of any museum. Publication is the key tool for learning as well as marketing. This can be digital or direct. The direct techniques involve, publishing leaflets, postcards, catalogues, posters, gallery sheet, any other popular and scholarly publication etc. The digital mode, most accessed, accepted and appreciated as well, involves Web-site, SEO and Links, E-mails, social media, radio channel and even apps. Whatever the means is, the basic motive is to make people aware, involve & connect with them.
  30. 30. PR tool & Museum Shop Swagata Mukhopadhyay Another means of engaging the target audience in Museum Learning is through Public Relation. Preview Articles of the events and exhibitions of museum or Interviews, Listing and Reviews can be done as part of Public Relation management. Museum shop should have a tasteful assortment of articles related to Museum Collection, of various types of visitors’ curiosity. All the scholarly or popular publications related to Museum collection and events or any other research should be available in Museum Shop to cater to inquisitive audiences.
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