Museums are ideal places to provide settings, resources and inspirations for a wide reaching and diverse range of both informal and formal learning activities addressing all ages with different needs.
Museums have been educational places since their inception, with their mission encompassing two sometimes, competing remits: caring for collections as well as providing access and learning opportunities for visitors. In addition to being places that conserve and present the traces of the past, they may also now be seen as the centre piece of community development or regeneration projects. There is no question that the role of museums has changed significantly in recent years.
When carrying out their educational and didactic tasks, European museums have often aimed their educational programmes at schoolchildren, seeing them as the most easy-to-reach group, and the one for which most is known about learning methodologies. Adult learning has seldom strayed from the guided visit, the expert lecture or formal evening class. In the last decade, more and more museums in the different European countries have chosen to consider the needs of and engage with new and or different audiences: migrants, people with disabilities, socially excluded people, and also adult lifelong learners, who see a museum visit as an opportunity to build understanding, gain an insight, be inspired, or simply to enjoy.
The museum public has widened to include both younger and older adults, who pose new challenges to museum educators used to working with groups of pupils or students in formal education. Adult learners are autonomous and self-directed, able to contribute actively to the learning experience and take part in the meaning-making process which all learning entails; they have also accumulated life experience and knowledge that new learning should build upon.
Lifelong learning therefore opens up a new era for museums: that of questioning assumptions, of experimenting, of building up partnerships, and of being challenged by encounters with different publics, new audiences, new citizens, and of trying to make a positive difference to their lives.
To access publications and other documents that regard Learning, head to the Reading Corner.
Recent News in Learning
Children in Museums Award: Call for Applications open until 1 March 2017! News, Projects & Calls, Learning, Museums as Social Agents
21.12.2016 | The Children in Museums Award is a joint venture between Hands On! and the European Museum Academy (EMA) and recognises creative and innovative museum exhibitions and programmes for children up to the age of 14.
Call for Workshop Facilitators: Meet, See, Do conference, April 2017 News, Projects & Calls, Museums as Social Agents, Learning, Museum Management, Museums in a Digital World
20.12.2016 | The fifth Balkan Museum Network's annual conference "Meet, See, Do" will be held from 6 – 8 April 2017 in Prishtina, Kosovo. Proposals for workshops can be submitted until 20 January 2017.
UNESCO High Level Forum on Museums adopts Shenzhen Declaration News, Museums as Social Agents, Intercultural Dialogue, Urban Development, Learning
01.12.2016 | During the High-Level Forum on Museums, held from 10-12 November 2016 in Shenzhen, China, the "Shenzhen Declaration on Museums and Collections" was adopted by the representatives of the UNESCO Member States.
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