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Museum education


Museum Education is a specialized field devoted to developing and strengthening the education role of non-formal education spaces and institutions such as museums. Its main objective is to engage visitors in learning experiences to enhance their curiosity and interest on their objects and collections.

In a seminal report called Excellence and Equity published in 1992 by the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums), the educational role of museums was identified as the core to museums' service to the public. According to the report, "...the public dimensions of museums leads them to perform the public service of education - a term that in its broadest sense includes exploration, study, observation, critical thinking, contemplation and dialogue." As museum education has developed as a field of study and interest in its own right, efforts have been made to record its history and to establish a research agenda to strengthen its position as a discipline in the wider work of museums.

In his first report as the first Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Culture during John F. Kennedy’s administration, in 1968, Philip H. Coombs emphasized the increment of the educative needs of the world’s population after World War II. In it, he mentions the diversity of non-formal education activities that constitute, or should constitute an important complement to formal education to the total educational efforts of any country. To Coombs, non-formal education had the potential to satisfy the learning demands of both, individuals and collectivities, because unlike formal and traditional education, which is rigid with its contents and programs, it is flexible and, when planning and designing educational activities, it takes into consideration local variations of culture, economy and society, which counteracts the tendency of developing countries to just imitate education models of developed countries.

In a work written by Coombs in conjunction with M. Ahmed, non-formal education is defined as «...any organized educational activity outside the established formal system —whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity— that is intended to serve identifiable learning clienteles and learning objective». Afterwards, Coombs and Ahmed add the idea that non-formal education is any systematic educative activity, organized outside from the official framework to facilitate educative experiences for all people, regardless of age, genre, nationality, social, economic or health situation. Throughout his career, Coombs encouraged and impulsed the professional development of people responsible of non-formal education, which will be determining to the development and professionalization of the educative areas in institutions devoted to non-formal education.



  • Museum-Ed, an online organization devoted to meeting the needs of museum educators by providing tools and resources by and for the museum education community
  • The Museum Education Roundtable, publisher of the Journal of Museum Education
  • New York City Museum Educators Roundtable, a forum for museum education professionals to address issues of museum and educational interest, exchange and disseminate relevant information and to explore and implement cooperative programming opportunities through roundtable discussions, workshops, and an annual conference.
  • Art Museum Teaching, a digital community and collaborative online forum for reflecting on issues of teaching, learning, and experimental practice in the field of art museum education. The site's goal is to connect educators, ideas, and resources around a dialogue about shared practice in teaching and learning.
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Wikipedia

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