Museums, Art, and Learning between Cultures: Questions, Opportunities, and Pathways for Aesthetic, Inter-cultural, and Museum-situated Learning

By David Bell.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: April 4, 2016 $US5.00

This paper explores the place of aesthetic learning as creative experience, by examining practices for learning about art in museums. More specifically, it argues that appropriately structured conversational strategies are necessary for shaping young peoples’ experiences of art works in ways that can also enhance learning between cultures. In doing so it explores the comparative attractions of constructivist, critical, and contextualised enquiry models for informing personally significant and culturally legitimate appreciations of art works. It draws on a long-term research project that examined how museum educators developed collaborative discussions around aesthetic objects and their cultural contexts. The project combined observations of museum learning engagements, and open question interviews with museum educators. It confirmed that museum educators usefully employed a range of conversational strategies for mediating pathways into aesthetic learning. It found that open-ended constructivist models suited the immediacy of museum experiences, but that conversational pathways building through broader contextual knowledge could better inform holistic appreciations of aesthetic experience and distant cultures for students of all ages. It suggests further that the strategies adopted by museum educators can provide accessible and transferable models for generalist classroom teachers for arts learning beyond the short museum visit itself.

Keywords: Arts Pedagogies, Cognition

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 11, Issue 2, June, 2016, pp.27-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: April 4, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 699.310KB)).

Dr. David Bell

Associate Professor, College of Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand