As museums are increasingly asked to demonstrate not only their cultural, but also their educational and social significance, the means to understand how museum visitors learn becomes ever more important. And yet, learning can be conceptualised and investigated in many ways. Coming to terms with how theories about learning interact with one another and how they relate to ‘evidence-based learning’ can be confusing at best.
Museum Learning attempts to make sense of multiple learning theories whilst focusing on a set of core learning topics in museums. Importantly, learning is considered not just as a cognitive characteristic, as some perspectives propose, but also as affective, taking into consideration interests, attitudes, and emotions; and as a social practice situated in cultural contexts. This book draws attention to the development of theory and its practical applications in museum situations such as aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens and historical re-enactment sites, among others.
This volume will be of interest to museum studies students, practitioners and researchers working in informal learning contexts, and will help them to reflect on what it means to learn in museums and create more effective environments for learning.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
List of Contributors
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Theory and Museum Practice
What’s in a theory?
What are they good for?
Where do they come from?
Theories about learning
Constructivism as an illustrated case
Chapter 3 The Importance of Methods and Methodology for Museum Practice
Philosophical background to research
Approaches to research
Methods of research
Trustworthiness and transferability
Chapter 4 Museums and the Making of Meaning
Do Jews have a rule against gay or lesbian people?
The basics of meaning making
Meaning making in the museum
A return to the Jewish Museum
Contextualising meaning making
Chapter 5 Narrative, Discourse, and Matters of Communication
Experiences on Room 41
The basics of discourse and narrative
Narrative and the museum perspective
Museum research drawing upon the visitor perspective
A return to Room 41
Contextualising narrative, discourse, and communication
Chapter 6 Degrees of Authenticity in Museums
Authentic nature play at the Chicago Botanic Garden
The basics of authenticity
Museums and the perception of authenticity
Summary and reflections
A return to the Learning Campus at CBG
Chapter 7 Remembering, Reminding, and Reminiscing in Museums
Build your own bush bark hut
Basics of personal constructs of memory
Basics of constructs about collective memory
Museums and memory studies
A return to the bush bark huts
Chapter 8 The Role of Self and Identity in Learning
The art of voicing Black women’s identity as seen through everyday objects
The basics of identity
Self and identity in the museum context
A return to the Colored Girls Museum
Contextualising self and identity
Chapter 9 Motivation: From Visiting to Devotion
Linking up museums and people through serious pursuits
The basics of motivation
Motivation in museums
A return to the VIP programme
Chapter 10 Questioning culture and power in museums
Aboriginal people and museums working together
The basics of culture and power
Culture and power in the museum context
A return to museum-Aboriginal communities collaborations
Contextualising culture and power
Chapter 11 Conclusions
Jill Hohenstein is Senior Lecturer in Psychology in Education at the School of Education, Communication and Society, King’s College London. Trained as a developmental psychologist, her research examines the ways that children and adults learn in informal settings, including museums, with a particular focus on language and cognitive development.
Theano Moussouri is Senior Lecturer in Museum Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She previously worked in museums as an audience researcher. Her current research examines motivation and meaning-making in museum visitors and non-visitors; museum professionals’ development and sharing of knowledge; and researcher-practitioner collaborative research.