Spaced Out: The Impact of Museum Spaces on Teaching and Learning

CARRIE WINSTANLEY

Abstract


In this paper, the role of the museum and gallery as an educational space is considered with an emphasis on social and emotional engagement in learning. Three separate case studies are considered; all instances of using museums with either Higher Education students or children and these are discussed with reference to impact of the museum/gallery as an educational space. Despite the three instances having different purposes, disparate groups of participants and varied overall objectives, similarities are seen when considering the impact of the museum or gallery space on the dynamic of the group and the individual experiences of the learners. Social engagement and open discussion is stimulated both by the space and the collections and is facilitated through the entrances, spaces and journeys through the buildings. All of these, in turn, impact on pedagogy and on the propensity for reflective responses to tasks and experiences. It is shown that in these instances, the intensity of the teaching and learning sessions in these spaces and contexts is fundamentally different to classroom activities and affords a different kind of learning opportunity for participants, often enriching or invigorating their learning and, in many cases, encouraging a more positive approach to learning in general.

[Please note that ‘museums’ and ‘galleries’ are generally used interchangeably. Where a specific location is the focus, this is made clear].


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