Museum compass 5.

Múzeumi iránytű 5.Knowledge and experience

Best practice in museum pedagogy – options or potentials of innovation and adaptation in Hungary

The accelerating pace of global economic and social changes coupled, with a radical transformation of education and leisure time activities along with expectations raised by the larger social environment compel museums to mobilize their own resources in providing an adequate response. The aforementioned changes pertain to all components of the museum organisation including management, research, presentations and exhibitions, interpretation of the respective artefacts, educational programs, public services and financing, not to mention their impact on the experts, managers, scientific researchers, and all staff dedicated to and entrusted with the propagation of the respective information.
According to a feasibility study connected with the Museums for Everyone Program – Strengthening the Educational Role of Museums – Central Methodological Development (TÁMOP-3.2.8/A-08-2008-0002) project: “The primary task and mission of a museum is the maximisation of the potential of its collection in the widest circle possible. Museums should exert an indirect impact on everyday life, play a role in culture creation and transmission in addition to functioning as a cultural centre for a given community, city, area, or region ” The
principal objective of a Visitor-friendly Museum is the elaboration of comprehensive museum programs for all age groups while utilizing the concept of life-long learning in creating innovative facilities .
In addition to the aforementioned culture creation and transmission role museums dedicated to the preservation of perennial cultural values and natural assets function as premises for the acquisition of quality information required by the education process along with providing a site for the development of key competences and the nurturing of creativity. Consequently, it is indispensable for the improvement of social integration and community cohesion that the information stored in museums be used with a greater efficiency for educational purposes. Thus museums can greatly benefit from a deliberate and well-planned cultivation of professional relationships with public education institutions. Said collaboration can take the form of contributing to the latest, competence-based training schemes implying a shift from mere knowledge acquisition to skill and aptitude development while promoting student motivation.
Educational experts have maintained that extracurricular activities and especially museums can significantly improve the communication ability of students, promote cooperative learning, and facilitate group work. Furthermore, the interpretation and elucidation of relevant artefacts by appropriate experts can considerably increase the efficiency of the learning process.
Today the modernisation of museums not only involves the recognition of the need for respective changes, but the acknowledgement of substantial results and promising initiatives including the renewal of several national and municipal museum exhibitions for educational purposes, the elaboration of visitor-centred services and the provision of an increasingly wide range of differentiated instructional programs and workshops tailored to the demands and expectations of the respective age groups. Museums are committed to creating such facilities whose visitors not only take away superficial memories, but are inspired to return time and time again by the informative, interesting and exciting exhibitions. Moreover, today’s museums are not only supporting public school education , but dedicated to the principle of equal opportunity and as sites and means of lifelong learning aspirations they offer a fully accessible mode of knowledge acquisition both in a traditional and lately more frequently, in a virtual manner.
Our methodological development project included an overview of the activities and achievements of several European institutions with significant traditions, experiences, and results in museum-based education. Consequently, we established connections with museums and institutions whose best practices deserve special attention and with whom we plan to have an even closer cooperation in the future. Our selection criteria of European museums and respective best practices included the observation of and adherence to the international
trends, the inclusion of a wide variety of museum-based disciplines and special areas in addition to introducing the latest, most modern methods. At the same time we emphasized the adaptability and applicability of the respective best practices in the Hungarian context while highlighting the feasibility of the realization of these possibilities by the presentation of prospective or successfully implemented programs and projects.
The contents of the present volume are organised around the central idea that the preservation of the general cultural heritage and its familiarization with future generations, along with the respective knowledge transfer are crucial requirements for the maintenance of identity awareness, personality development, and the improvement of competences. In France this method has been implemented over a century and presently the instruction related to the cultural environment and cultural heritage is carried out within the framework of civics
subjects. Teachers of this subject can choose from a wide variety of work methods and facilities including the Heritage School, introduced by Cécile Ranise. In the section opening comprehensive essay said author describes the most important characteristics, basic objectives, crucial teaching and subject schedules, pedagogical applications along with a brief look at the questions of organising and financing.
The essay including two case studies demonstrating the operation of the Heritage Schools of France provides school programs or initiatives worthy of adaptation in Hungary. Following Ranise’s treatise cultural heritage preservation efforts directly applicable to the Hungarian experience are introduced.
Edit Bárd focuses on a comprehensive museum pedagogy research endeavour carried out in countryside museums of Great Britain. The domestic adaptation of the outlined research methods could help us in exploring how museums can contribute to the development of key competences required for the preparation of lifelong learning along with investigating their educational potential
Tamás Vásárhelyi’s essay written in his signature engaging and entertaining style introduces the general culture propagation efforts of the Natural Science Museum of London. The article introduces such best practices, which can be successfully applied and utilized by ”enthusiastic associates” in Hungary as well.
The general decline of public interest towards natural sciences coupled with the waning standards of instruction pose a pressing problem for any institution of the international education arena. Judit Varga-Berta’s examination of the best practices of the Science Museum of London and of a science centre located in Scotland provides a potential solution. Following the introduction of two examples from the Czech Republic Ildikó Antall presents the Travelling Museum, a methodology elaborated by the Museum of Electro-technology in Hungary. The
dual objective of this scheme is the popularization of natural sciences while providing help to Physics instruction for elementary and secondary schools not equipped with the appropriate experimental apparatus.
Live interpretation provides a wide array of options for the experience-oriented presentation and inculcation of diverse activities, narratives, and events not only within the school curriculum, but via programs organised for a large section of the interested public. Consequently, this method is demonstrated by Anna Huth’s overview of best practices in England coupled with the presentation of successful Hungarian adaptations by Katalin Kurucz and Gábor Veres of Aquincum, and of the István Dobó Castle Museum of Eger respectively.
The Vocational School Students in the Museum initiative is somewhat different from the Hungarian practice. While Hungarian museums have offered programs for those learning a trade with the primary intention of reinforcing their acquired knowledge, this scheme operated by the KulturKontakt Institute of Austria for over a decade prioritises key competence development. The Museum Inside Out program offered by the Vienna Museum of Ethnography not only includes an outstanding exhibition, but by involving students in the museum organisation as potential visitors promotes the stabilization of self-esteem, the broadening of personal perspective, and the improvement of individual and group cooperation and social skills. The implementation of similar museum programs for vocational school students is vital in Hungary.
While Act XXVI/1998 on the Rights and the Provision of Equal Opportunity for the Disabled entitles the intellectually and physically impaired to full access to cultural institutions in Hungary, the integration of the disabled into the cultural arena and the promotion of their full participation in cultural life have been assigned a greater priority and have earned more public attention in France since the 1970s. This effort was given further impetus by the commitment of the respective governments and the establishment of the appropriate legal environment.Cecile Ranise’s very through treatise provides a definition of the fully accessible museum. Such arrangement includes building premises without any physical hindrances in addition to fully accessible information, communication, cultural, and artistic activities. The author introduces the best practices of museums in Paris which despite continuous improvements reflect standards not yet achieved by cultural institutions and museums in Hungary. The article contains a survey of national museums in Hungary along with providing a glimpse of domestic tendencies aimed at promoting the expansion of cultural programs for the disabled as well.
A best practice is a step in the positive direction, a pattern, a process, or a method whose primary features are success, innovation, adaptability by the people in other fields, thus by extension improved multiplication capability and sustainability. Success in this case means that those applying the respective methods can achieve positive results, while innovation refers to the realization of a novel concept based upon an original idea.
The present volume divided into seven sections: Heritage pedagogy, Museum pedagogy research efforts, Knowledge transmission and learning in natural science museums, New perspectives for technological museums, Live interpretation in museums, Vocational trade students in the museums, and Fully accessible museums introduces successfully tested or potentially adaptable activities, methods, and examples. We hope that having been introduced to these best practices several Hungarian museums will be inspired to carry out similar innovation and adaptation efforts as well.