What do people learn from visiting museums and how do they learn it? The editors approach this question by focusing on conversations as both the process and the outcome of museum learning. People do not come to museums to talk, but they often do talk. This talk can drift from discussions of managing the visit, to remembrances of family members and friends not present, to close analyses of particular objects or displays. This volume explores how these conversations reflect and change a visitor's identity, discipline-specific knowledge, and engagement with an informal learning environment that has been purposefully constructed by an almost invisible community of designers, planners, and educators.
Fitting nicely into a small but rapidly expanding market, this book presents:
*one of the first theoretically grounded set of studies on museum learning;
*an explicit presentation of innovative and rich methodologies on learning in museums;
*information on a variety of museums and subject matter;
*a study on exhibitions, ranging from art to science content;
*authors from the museum and the academic world;
*a range of methods--from the analysis of diaries written to record museum visits, to studies of preservice teachers using pre- and post-museum visit tests;
*an examination of visitors ranging from age 4-75 years of age, and from known and unknown sample populations; and
*a lens that examines museum visits in a fine grained (1 second) or big picture (week, year long) way.
"With meticulously documented audience research, the authors show how museum conversations can reflect and change a visitor's viewpoint, discipline-specific knowledge, and engagement with the institution."
"There is an immense amount of material in these two volumes- 31 chapters in all-that many researchers will want to pick through, depending on their interest and research questions. Chapters illustrate the rich history and wealth of research on learning in museums and demonstrate that museums are significant learning institutions worthy of serious educational research and study."
"…presents a wide range of new research into learning in museums through recording and analysing visitor conversations….The book provides a wealth of useful ideas for designers, curators, educators, evaluators, and management….All the chapters read well and include excellent introductions and concise and informative conclusions."
"Learning Conversations in Museums lives up to the promise of a prologue: enticing readers to find out more about this emergent field by foreshadowing future studies, introducing larger studies, and addressing similar themes from distinct perspectives….Readers new to museum learning will gain insight into creative methodologies, enjoy the varied experiences visitors have in museums, and respect the complex social connections among designers, curators, docents, researchers, teachers, students, visitors, families, and funders."
—Contemporary Psychology APA REVIEW OF BOOKS
"Reading Learning Conversations in Museums is rather like visiting 13 unique exhibits about learning-each focused on a different museum, design questions, learner population, or methodology. These 13 chapters invite the reader to make sense of the emergent field of museum learning through the lens of conversations in museums. The chapters capture three years of research by members of the museum learning collaborative on the intertwining of social and cultural processes in museums….Readers new to museum learning will gain insight into creative methodologies, enjoy the varied experiences visitors have in museums, and respect the complex social connections among designers, curators, docents, researchers, teachers, students, visitors, families, and funders. Those who study museum learning will revisit complex questions about research methods, the nature of learning, and the impact of culture."
—Contemporary Psychology APA REVIEW OF BOOKS
Contents: Preface. Part I: Conversations: A Year of Learning. K. Knutson, Creating a Space for Learning: Curators, Educators and the Implied Audience. M. Abu-Shumays, G. Leinhardt, Two Docents, Three Museums: Central and Peripheral Participation. K.M. Ellenbogen, Museums in Family Life: An Ethnographic Case Study. G. Leinhardt, C. Tittle, K. Knutson, Talking to Oneself: Diaries of Museum Visits. Part II: Conversations: An Afternoon of Learning. G. Leinhardt, M. Gregg, Burning Buses, Burning Crosses: Student Teachers See Civil Rights. J. Fienberg, G. Leinhardt, Looking Through the Glass: Reflections of Identity in Conversations at a History Museum. C. Stainton, Voices and Images: Making Connections Between Identity and Art. S. Allen, Looking for Learning in Visitor Talk: A Methodological Exploration. E. Rosenthal, J. Blankman-Hetrick, Conversations Across Time: Family Learning in a Living History Museum. Part III: Conversations: A Moment of Learning. K. Crowley, M. Jacobs, Building Islands of Expertise in Everyday Family Activity. D. Ash, Negotiations of Thematic Conversations About Bioilogy. S.G. Paris, M.J. MercerFinding Self in Objects: Identity Exploration in Museums. L. Schauble, M. Gleason, R. Lehrer, K. Bartlett, A. Petrosino, A. Allen, K. Clinton, E. Ho, M. Jones, Y-S. Lee, J-A. Phillips, J. Siegler, J. Street, Supporting Science Learning in Museums.