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
[Call for Applications] Skills, Training & Knowledge Transfer: traditional and emerging heritage - Voices of Culture News, EU Culture Policy, Museums as Social Agents, Museums in a Digital World, Learning
22.02.2017 | If you are active in the field of traditional and emerging heritage or deal with skills, training or knowledge transfer in these sectors, you can now apply to participate in the structured dialogue with the European Commission.
Save the Date - Ecsite Annual Conference, 15-17 June 2017, Porto, Portugal News, Audience Development, Learning, Museums as Social Agents, Museums in a Digital World
15.02.2017 | The Ecsite conference is open to everyone interested in public engagement with science, museums and science centres. Topics range from learning theory to serious gaming, universal design to sustainable development.
From Museum Education to Audience Engagement - Publication by the Finnish Association for Museum Education Peedali News, Audience Development, Museums as Social Agents, Learning, Cultural Creativity
10.01.2017 | The publication presents relevant themes discussed during the international seminar of the same name held in Helsinki, Finland in May 2015.
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