Seven Powerful Ways to Maximise Learning and Involvement

Jan 15

Advancing Engagement, the third volume of Stefanie Jandl and Mark Gold’s Handbook for Academic Museums, shares many great experiences of how academic museums are reaching out to both students and their wider communities. Here, we’ve picked out seven of our favourites. 

  1. POSITION YOUR MUSEUM as a critical centre of student learning. Think of your facility as a vital centre of learning on a par with research libraries. Understand that the learning potential of your museum goes far beyond the traditional subject-based framework. [Liliana Milkova, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.]
  2. CREATE STUDENT PANELS. The student panel created at Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life to guide public-facing programmes helped develop and run a Vintage Night as part of the nationwide Museums at Night programme. It turned out to be the museum’s most successful event ever in attracting students, reflecting their ability to create high-quality events which appeal to new audiences. [Rhianedd Smith, Reading University Museum Studies.]
  3. GET STUDENTS WORKING alongside living artists. At the Wellin Museum student involvement permeates every aspect of the museum, reflecting its belief in the value of learning by doing. Since 2012, the Wellin has hosted six visiting artists with students working alongside each one, learning from their methodologies. Direct, hands-on learning is rewarding for the students and provides a sense of personal involvement with the museum. [Tracy L Adler and Susanna White, Wellin Museum, Hamilton College, New York.]
  4. PLAN FOR THE TRANSFER OF LEARNING. Research shows that for learning to transfer, the process has to be planned in an intentional way: help academic staff prepare for their next stage of activity once their museum visit has ended. [Liliana Milkova, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.]
  5. SET UP A POETS IN RESIDENCE PROGRAMME. In Cambridge, ten poets were invited to undertake residencies with eight university museums, working with groups of young people to develop their creativity and confidence, whilst creating new poems - which were published in an anthology, Ten. The project achieved high-profile media coverage both locally and nationally. [Liz Hide, Cambridge University Museums.]
  6. CONSIDER THE IMPACT of multiple class visits over a student’s undergraduate years. Develop ways of assessing your museum’s cumulative impact on student learning: a student may visit your museum very many times, formally and informally, during their degree. Discover how their learning is impacted over an entire undergraduate experience. [Liliana Milkova, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.]
  7. CURATE YOUR CITY. Today’s young people relate to the concept of “curating” as never before. Curating Cambridge: Our City, Our Stories, Our Stuff - a city-wide public celebration of collections - featured exhibitions, events, workshops, talks and performances in which people curated their own collections, connecting their stories to the museum collections and joined in a celebration of culture and heritage across the city. The initiative developed new partnerships and reached many new audiences in fresh and exciting ways. [Liz Hide, Cambridge University Museums.]



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