1st Edition

A New Role for Museum Educators Purpose, Approach, and Mindset

Edited By Elizabeth Wood Copyright 2023
    290 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    290 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A New Role for Museum Educators shows how learning happens in communities, how volunteers and professionals approach their work, the underlying principles and philosophies that guide the work of museum education, and how these practices are always evolving to remain relevant.

    Museum education in its most expansive definition is about communicating messages, creating learning experiences, and, at its most aspirational, promoting human development for people of all backgrounds, abilities, and circumstances. This edited volume revisits the legacy of museum education practices, reflecting on the changing context of community and the role of cultural institutions, and provides insights into new directions that museums can take with a visitor-centered mindset. It provides foundational concepts around educational philosophies that guide practice, applied methods and approaches for implementation, and the ethos of an educational institution intended to support community learning and engagement that are essential to provide for the wide-ranging needs of all audiences. International perspectives from a variety of museums are considered, including art museums, children’s museums, history museums and historic sites, science museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums. Chapters include thought-provoking reflections on contemporary practices, concrete examples from across the globe, and useful tools for anyone working with public audiences.

    Grounded in practice and informed by research, this volume will be a go-to resource for arts and cultural organization practitioners, particularly those working in Museum Education. It will also be essential reading for students of Museum Studies, Education, and related fields

    1. Introduction
    2. Elizabeth Wood

      Part One: Museum Educators and Education and their Purpose Past, Present, and Future

    3. Relevance, Inclusion, and Interaction in Museums from Peale’s Perspective: Not Yet Enough
    4. Inez S. Wolins

    5. Education and Discipline: Deviant Objects and Dissenting Bodies at the Horniman Museum
    6. Nathalie Cooper

    7. Tilden, Now and Then 
    8. Allison Horrocks

    9. Why Not a Temple AND a Forum?

    Sarah Junk Hatcher

    6. Teaching in the Art Museum: A Classic Reframed

    Nathaniel Prottas

    7. Learningscapes and the Visitor Experience

    Donnelley Hayde, Joe E. Heimlich and Laura Weiss

    8. Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy in Museum Education

    Kalia Vue

    Part Two: Essential Methods and Approaches

    9. Designing Experiences for Audience Diversity: A guide for audience-centered program design

    Salvador Acevedo

    10. Meeting the Needs of All Museum Visitors through Family-Friendly Design

    Joanna Fisher

    11. Tools for Interactive Inspiration: Beyond Buttons and Flip Labels

    Cathy Hamaker and Melissa Pederson

    12. Experiencing Objects in the Museum

    Elizabeth Wood and Kiersten F. Latham

    13. Selecting, Implementing, and Adapting Educational Methodologies to Support Interpretation

    Stephanie Eddleman, Elyse Handel, Susan Michal, Ashlee Beattie, Sandra O’Quinn and Jessica Shaw

    14. Scaling the Ivory Tower—Creating and Managing Collaboration with the University

    James Kisiel

    15. Museum Educators as Curricular Innovators: Women & the American Story, a Case Study

    Leslie Hayes and Mia Nagawiecki

    16. Amateur, Audience, Agent: Participatory Culture and Docent Roles 

    Jean A. Graves

    17. At the Crossroads of Tradition and Transformation: Docents in the Art Museum

    Jennifer Schero

    Part Three: The Museum Educator Mindset in the Community and in the Field

    18. Art on the Mind: Creative Aging at the Frye Art Museum

    Michelle Cheng and Mary Jane Knecht

    19. Museums as Sites for Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Teacher Preparation

    Jamie Wallace, Natasha Cooke-Nieves, Preeti Gupta, Naina Abowd and Elaine Howes

    20. How do we want to live? Collaborative curation of a special exhibition on sustainable futures at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum Frankfurt

    Christina Hoefling, Eva Rossmanith, Lena Theiler and Simone Kimpeler

    21. Claiming Space, Cultivating Community: Latinx and Asian American Ethnically Specific Museums in a Global City 

    Lucena Valle

    22. Finding One’s Way as a Novice Art Museum Educator

    Ashley Mask

    23. Reclaiming our Peace: Preparing for a Career as BIPOC Museum Educators

    Amber N. Mitchell

    24. Learning Frameworks and the Museum Educator’s Role: Strategies for Long-term Relevance

    Claire Thoma Emmons, Susan Foutz, Melissa Pederson and Carey Meier 

    25. Gathering Together with Purpose: A New Framework for Museum Education 

    Briley Rasmussen and Carissa DiCindio


    Elizabeth Wood, editor, is the Nadine and Robert A. Skotheim Director of Education and Public Programs at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Wood’s expertise focuses on object-based learning and connecting museum visitors to museum collections.