September 1, 2022

The Role of Museums Within Education

Summer is a great time to try new things and explore places that spark your imagination. Activities like reading graphic novels or visiting museums are a good way to keep your families engaged and inspire learning during summer break. 

In fact, the role of museums in education may be bigger than you may think. One of the best ways to capture and shape the imagination is through museums. According to The Museum Group, the artifacts, dioramas, and immersive exhibitions provide a uniquely positive environment to foster learning in young children. 

Here’s why you should visit museums this summer to support learning outside of school.

Creating an Experience

Sometimes creating an experience is much more valuable than teaching a lesson. This is the process of experiential learning.

Psychologist David Kolb explains, “Knowledge results from the combinations of grasping and transforming the experience.” Kolb also states that the mind can grasp experience through concrete experience and abstract conceptualization.

A concrete experience means that the learner has a hands-on experience connected to the learning outcome, whereas abstract conceptualization is about connecting the experience to prior learning. Museums employ active learning with works of art, ancient artifacts, and exhibits that force visitors to reflect upon their own ideas and impressions, allowing them to constantly make judgments, interpretations, and personal connections.

Developing Agency

The role of museums provides a different approach to learning. Schools are much more structured, whereas museums give visitors the freedom to move about at their own pace. This allows visitors to set their agendas.

For example, visitors can often choose between text descriptions and audio tours, choose which exhibits interest them the most, and sometimes watch films that provide even more background on a work of art. This offers kids a sense of agency to take charge of the way they learn. 

Developing personal agency is powerful, especially during childhood. It makes kids feel more in control and comfortable, which enforces a belief in their own abilities. Because of the agency that museums foster, education is much more subtle, yet just as poignant.

Kevin Coffee of Lowell National Historical Park puts it wonderfully by stating, “Museums are important collections of ideological symbols and perform a special communication as well as legitimizing role. The narratives conveyed by museums are observed as definitive and authoritative, and the objects displayed are understood as emblematic or normative culture.”

Technology and Museums

Just because museums are filled with ancient artifacts doesn’t mean they’re outdated. Many museums are integrating technology into their exhibits to make the experience come alive for visitors.

The emergence of augmented reality and virtual reality have greatly enhanced the experience of museums. One major way museums are changing is with an immersive 360-degree experience that brings artifacts to life around you.

A beautiful example of this is the Van Gogh Exhibition, which began in 2017 and has garnered the attention of more than 5,000,000 visitors from all over Europe, the Asian Pacific, and the United States.

This stunning experience brings the works of Vincent Van Gogh to life unlike ever before. This results in a more immersive experience and turns visitors into active participants in Van Gogh’s creative process, something often glanced over during surface-level lessons.

Keep Your Mind Engaged at Renton Prep

The biggest draw of museums is how they invite visitors to learn rather than requiring it. This freedom of choice is an important personal experience, and it’s why we believe museums are a great place to keep minds engaged during the summer.

At Renton Prep, we’re passionate about providing quality education that helps broaden our students’ creativity and worldview.

If you have any questions about our student-centric technology-driven curriculum, don’t hesitate to contact us today!