On December 4 and 5, 2012 the leadership of sixteen internationally recognized U.S., European and Canadian art museum education organizations came together in Austin, Texas to establish communication channels to work together in the future to support our common goals. Organizations that serve the needs of art museum educators, whether through grants and other support, university training, professional development, scholarly publishing or professional networks had never met as a group to discuss their common interests and challenges – until now.
The Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts (MIDEA) officially sponsored the meeting as part of its ongoing focus on understanding critical challenges facing visual arts education and building capacity in museums. During the two days of working sessions the group examined our profession’s core needs—a peer-reviewed publication, a research agenda, professional networks, professional development, advocacy tools, and a documented history.
The group also explored ways in which their organizations could build, expand and contribute to the strategic growth of the field of museum education. During the course of the summit, the following key opportunities were identified:
Leadership programs are needed. Currently there are few leadership programs in the field of art museum education compared to other fields such as art history. In order to ensure a strong future for the field of museum education, quality leadership programs need to be developed and be accessible for those working in the field.
Increase collaboration among museum education organizations. Currently there is little collaboration among art museum education organizations, with no formal channels of communication. Understanding each other’s common goals and leveraging each other’s efforts can only occur when collaboration and communication mechanisms are present.
Invest more in documentation of the history and evolution of museum education as a field. The group agreed that we still lack an understanding of our own history and evolution, even though recent publications have contributed to that understanding. Without a common history that pervades our field, reinvention of the same wheel remains a risk.
Increase international engagement within the field of museum education. Especially interesting for the U.S. organizations was getting to know European museum education organizations. While European museum organizations are aware of U.S. activity in the field, U.S. museum organizations are far less aware of activity in Europe and Canada. The meeting was a first step in building international bridges between these organizations.
As a result of this historic meeting the attendees have formed an online consortium of art museum education organizations to share information and resources, and address field-wide challenges. The organizations listed below are part of the online consortium, if your organization would like to join the consortium or if you know of an art museum education organization that should be on the list, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the blog section here and leave a comment.
Art Education: Art Museum Education at University of Texas at Austin
Canadian Art Gallery Educators
Education Committee (EdCom) of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM)
The Edward and Betty Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts (MIDEA)
Group for Education in Museums
Journal of Museum Education
The Learning Museum Project, European Union
Museum Education Monitor
Museum Education Division of the National Art Education Association (NAEA)
Museum Education Program at Bank Street College
Museum Education Program at George Washington University
Museum Education Residency Program at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Online Conference for Museum Education at the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum of Art