Experiences in the Museum – Thoughts about Museum Education
One of the most memorable museum education experiences that I encountered was that when, inspired by Imre Kocsis's painting The Wedding Feast, a scene was acted out, while a woman in an authentic rural costume started fussing about like she was part of the depicted cooking scene. The picture came to life at once, and I could almost smell the scent of roasting meat.
Museum education worked its magic: I still remember the picture and its atmosphere vividly, as well as the name of its creator.
The essence and importance of museum education is indisputable. Its goal is to make the reception of a single artwork or a whole exhibition a memorable experience, and to ask questions and start a conversation. Museum education teaches, initiates and broadens the horizons of the participating children and adults.
"In my opinion, the exclusivity of museum education as a term is questionable. Nowadays I prefer to use art mediation", says Zsófia Somogyi-Rohonczy, a museum educator at Ludwig Museum. "On one hand, ‘art mediation’ does not limit the location of the activity to the museum, and on the other hand, it does not include the word education (or pedagogy), which often suggests a one-way mentality on its own. Art mediation, for me, means more guidance and assistance. I possess the background information and the skill set, but the whole activity is designed so you get to know the artwork and create your own interpretation."
Museum educational sessions for families are now available on nearly every Saturday and Sunday. In the past ten years, almost every museum has broadened its range of services with such creative programs. "A session is generally 60 to 90 minutes, and we try to keep up attention with diverse tasks and different ways of mediation", says the museum educator.
It can be especially memorable if children are able to deepen their general knowledge with the help of an out-of-class experience. They will process the knowledge gained during a history or an art class much more effectively if it is accompanied by a museum visit. "We are always trying to adapt the program to the needs of a given group”, adds Zsófia. “For example with school children, we always consult beforehand with their teachers about the subjects they are learning and the level they are at.”
Whether in a school setting or as a family program, when children get acquainted with fine art in a playful form, they become inevitably more sensitive to this world. "If the only result of a 90-minute session is a drawing by a little kid, I can say that I am satisfied knowing that we made him feel safe to do that. This is the first step for them on the road of becoming an adult who likes to visit museums.”
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