From 27 October to 4 November, 2014, 36 participants from 21 countries participated in a workshop organised by the ICOM International Training Centre for Museum Studies (ICOM-ITC). The topic Learning in Museums was at the centre of the 10-day workshop.
The third workshop of the ICOM-ITC opened with a passionate presentation from Palace Museum Director, Dr. Jixiang Shan. His descriptions of the Palace Museum’s cultural and educational programmes was a warm welcome for his audience of international museum educators assembled in Beijing, China to exchange ideas on the theme Learning in Museums.
The workshop continued with many other compelling presentations, including one by Qingsheng Guo, Director of Education Department of Shanghai Museum on his view of museum education, and joint presentations given by Emma Nardi and Marie-Clarté O’Neill, experts from the ICOM International Committee on Cultural Action and Education (ICOM CECA). They presented the committee’s “Best Practice” model, which aims to analyse and evaluate the practical experiences of museum educators in order to develop useful theories on education practice. They stressed the importance of carrying out this type of evaluation in addition to assessing the experiences of visitors and participants. Later on, Linda Sproul, Manager of Education and Community Programmes at Museum Victoria in Australia, shared her vision of informal learning and described her institution’s adult and early learning programmes.
After a successful Reading Artefacts session at the last ICOM-ITC workshop in April, Claude Faubert, ICOM-ITC Coordinator and Vice President of Collection and Research of Canada Science and Technology Museums Corp, led another of these hands-on sessions, inviting participants to consider the objectives and possible audiences for the session activities, with a view to carrying out similar programmes in their own museums.
Throughout the workshop, participants worked in groups to build audience plans and develop ideas for potential programmes in their own museums. They enjoyed many opportunities to share their day-to-day challenges and to showcase their own museums’ educational programmes. Museum visits and exchanges with local museum educators enabled the participants to better understand museum education in China.
Reflecting on her first ICOM-ITC experience, Linda Mboya, Director of Communications of County Government of Lamu, Kenya, said: “It opens up your thinking beyond the confines of your museum and you are able to improve and progress your programmes.” Jennifer Siung, Head of Education of Chester Beatty Library, Ireland, added: “The most important thing is meeting the members of the workshop through the ICOM network. I learned a lot about Chinese museums as well as other Asian and international museums. What I will take home with me is the theoretical experience as well as practical.” Yan Ou, Director of Education Promotion Department of Guangdong Museum, China, thanked the ICOM-ITC for providing an opportunity to learn about education theories without leaving China, pointing out that such an experience was important for small and medium-sized Chinese museums.
The next ICOM-ITC workshop will be held in April 2015, and will focus on an exhibition-related theme.