The Responsive Museum : Working with Audiences in the Twenty-First Century book cover
1st Edition

The Responsive Museum
Working with Audiences in the Twenty-First Century

ISBN 9780754645603
Published September 28, 2006 by Routledge
296 Pages

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Book Description

What is the relationship today between museums, galleries and learning? The Responsive Museum interrogates the thinking, policies and practices that underpin the educational role of the museum. It unravels the complex relationship of museums with their publics, and discusses today's challenges and the debates that have resulted. The highly experienced team of writers, including museum educators and directors, share their different experiences and views, and review recent research and examples of best practice. They analyse the implications of audience development and broadening public access, particularly in relation to special groups, minority communities and disabled people, and for individual self-development and different learning styles; they explore issues of public accountability and funding; discuss the merits of different evaluation tools and methodologies for measuring audience impact and needs; and assess the role of architects, designers and artists in shaping the visitor experience. The latter part of this book reviews practical management and staffing issues, and training and skills needs for the future. This book is for students, museum staff, especially those involved in education and interpretation, and senior management and policy-makers. This is a much-needed review of the relationship between museums and galleries and their users. It also offers a wealth of information and expertise to guide future strategy and practice.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, Caroline Lang, John Reeve and Vicky Woollard. Understanding Audiences: theory, policy and practice: Introduction; Influences on museum practice, John Reeve and Vicky Woollard; The impact of government policy, Caroline Lang, John Reeve and Vicky Woollard; The public access debate, Caroline Lang. Developing Audiences: Introduction; Prioritising audience groups, John Reeve; Networks and partnerships: building capacity for sustainable audience development, Ian Blackwell and Sarah Scaife; Response, Nico Halbertsma; Dancing around the collections: developing individuals and audiences, Eithne Nightingale; Response: Izzy Mohammed; Museums and the Web, Caroline Dunmore; Response, Roy Hawkey; Understanding Museum Evaluation, Kate Pontin; Response, Susan Potter. Managing the Responsive Museum: Introduction; Where does the museum end?, Mike Tooby; Response, Alec Coles; The funding challenge, Phyllida Shaw; Response: Antonia Byatt; Learning, leadership and applied research, Nick Winterbotham; Response: Janet Vitmayer; Audience advocates in museums; John Reeve; Response: Jane Samuels; Whose space? creating the environments for learning, Rick Rogers; Response: Christopher Bagot; An unsettled profession, Vicky Woollard; Response: Caitlin Griffiths; Conclusion: Where do we go from here?, Caroline Lang, John Reeve and Vicky Woollard. Appendices: UK museum and gallery visitor figures; Inspiring learning for all framework; A Common Wealth (1997) - Twelve targets; Bibliography; Index.

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Caroline Lang is Learning Centre Project Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, and also works as a museum consultant. She was Senior Policy Adviser for Access and Audience Development at The Museums Libraries and Archives Council (formerly Resource) from 1999 to 2003 managing their first cross-domain disability, cultural diversity and social inclusion programmes. John Reeve was Head of Education at the British Museum 1982-2003. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education, London University, UK, where he teaches on the MA in Museums, Galleries and Education. John is also vice-chair of the Group for Education in Museums. He has published on Japanese art and world religions, as well as on many aspects of museology and education. He also works as a museum consultant and trainer in the UK and abroad. Vicky Woollard is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cultural Policy and Management at City University, London, UK. She is Programme director for the MA Museum and Gallery Management, with particular interest in Education in the Cultural Sector. Vicky has had 18 years experience as an Education Officer in 3 London Museums before becoming a consultant.


'The Responsive Museum is a very welcome addition to the literature on museums. In exploring the complex relationship between museums and their audiences, the book challenges the received wisdom, language and prejudices found within the sector. It uses an innovative layout, sound argument and a wealth of references alongside the experience and responses of current practitioners from an unusual variety of backgrounds. The result is a really good read and an essential reference for new entrants to the museum world and those who train them; whilst those who fear they have been around museums too long, will find their thinking refreshed and their passion for sharing knowledge rekindled.' Karen Knight, formerly of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council 'This is a thought-provoking and insightful book, written by people who know the reality as well as the theory. It successfully draws together and makes sense of the many complex factors that underpin the fundamental changes we are now seeing in museums, and will inspire students and practitioners alike.' Frazer Swift, Museum of London, UK ’In analyzing developments over the last ten years, this book also sets the agenda for the next decade. It is an indispensible resource, embodying the principle that cultural institutions are places of engagement, reflection and informed debate.’ David Anderson, Victoria and Albert Museum, UK 'What makes the book unusual is that several of the more controversial chapters are responded to with provocative challenges. The result is that readers are given a clear view of the issues and possible solutions.' CILIP Update, March 2007