Functions of museums: education

Functions of museums: education
Functions of museums: education

Education, since the middle of the 20th century, is one of the functions of museums, having now become obligatory. Although diffusion will be present in museums throughout the century, it will be after World War II when communication is seen as one of the activities inherent to said institution.

Visitors queuing to see a temporary exhibition ©Photoblog Mauro A. Fuentes

The United States was the first of the countries to incorporate, already in the 1920s and 1930s, educational projects in museums, something favored by the private nature of most of them (educational programs attracted more and more mixed public).

In Spain, we will have to wait a little longer, dating back to the 1980s the first museums with an education department: the Archaeological Museum of Álava, the municipal museums of Barcelona, ​​the Zaragoza Museum, the Museum of Tarragona or the National Archaeological Museum will be the pioneers.

In 1974 ICOM thought that education and communication should be incorporated into museums and recommended the creation of departments of education and cultural action (DEAC). The idea that bases them is that different types of public can be educated from the proposals that they emit. And the fundamental activities to achieve a greater education within the museum will bediverse: temporary exhibitions, conferences/symposiums/cycles, creative workshops, publications, school visits and guided tours.

It can be said that the mainstay of this set are the temporary exhibitions, not only because they renew the museum's proposal but, mainly, because they also contribute to the renewal of its image and also attract a large number of visitors (have become a social phenomenon).

This type of event often brings real surprises, as happened in the exhibition that El Prado organized on Velázquez in 1990 with half of the works coming from the museum itself. Despite this circumstance, the museum raised so much money that a work by Sánchez Cotán could be purchased, which means that most of the visitors were visiting the center for the first time. This success has been followed by others, such as the retrospective on Manet, which reaffirm the enormous potential that temporary exhibitions possess.

But these performances do not usually take place in isolation, often sharing their duration with activities that complement them: conferences, workshops, etc.

Activities that have otherwise become habitual throughout the year in museums and that have their own lines of action; thus, school visits, for example, essential when creating an affective bond with the public of tomorrow, are based on a relationship between the museum's teachers and pedagogues and the presentation of content based on age.The courses and conferences are usually aimed at an adult and general audience, as well as the creative workshops, the symposiums at a specialized one, the didactic workshops, on the contrary, seek the participation of schoolchildren and a certain number of activities, very scarce, are elaborated thinking of groups with special needs, such as the blind, for example.

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