Museum Education Research Sites:

The Definitions Project
The Definitions Project grew out of a desire to establish a common vocabulary for a working collaborative of agencies and organizations associated with education and interpretation in nonformal settings. Through 2006, representatives from over two dozen federal agencies, nonprofit professional organizations, and not-for-profit organizations came together to agree on the definitions of common terminology used by interpreters, environmental educators, historians, and others in nonformal settings such as parks, aquariums, zoos, nature centers, historic sites, and museums. The result of their work is included in this website and is available copyright-free for download or web-based use by anyone who needs it.

Museum Studies Reference Library of the Smithsonian Institution Library
The Museum Studies & Reference Library (MS&RL) is one of the largest sources of information, and bibliographic services available to museum professionals and researchers in the United States. MS&RL is a library with information resources on museums and all aspects of museum operations, and with comprehensive reference collection to support scholarly research in Institution programs. One of 20 branches of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, MS&RL was established in 2002. MSRL combines collections formerly known as the Museum Reference Center and the Central Reference & Loan Services.

Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS)
Specialized Research Bibliographies Database
The Museum Studies Bibliographies contains bibliographic citations to information on the role and function, history and philosophy, and nature and structure of museums. Much of this information, drawn from all disciplines and functional perspectives, is contained in materials that are difficult to discover or appear in under-utilized formats. Citations in the database include over 1,500 theses and dissertations written in English at universities worldwide, 35 years of articles indexed from the American Law Institute -American Bar Association (ALI-ABA) Proceedings and Course of Study in Museum Administration, 30 years of articles from the Journal of Museum Education (JME), and audiotapes of the past twelve years of the American Association of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting sessions.

Museum Learning Collaborative
The Museum Learning Collaborative (MLC), funded by a consortium of public agencies under the direction of the Institute for Museum and Library Services, has been established to further theoretically driven research on learning in museums. This nationwide project includes a core set of researchers and museums working together to develop a common research agenda. The Museum Collaborative has established a Technical Report series to share our work with the field. You can download copies of these reports and other articles produced by members of the Museum Learning Collaborative.

Informal Science
The purpose of Informal Science is to promote and advance the field of informal learning in science and other domains. This site is a place to share knowledge through interactive searches of references of research literature on informal learning in museums, on the web, and beyond. Informal Science is being developed by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Learning in Out of School Environments (UPCLOSE) at the Learning Research and Development Center.

Journal of Museum Education
The Journal of Museum Education is the premier publication promoting and reporting on theory, training, and practice in the museum education field. Journal articles, written by museum, education, and research professionals, explore such relevant topics as learning theory; visitor evaluation; teaching strategies for art, science, and history museums; and the responsibilities of museums as public institutions. Published three times a year.

Art Education
Art Education is the official journal of the National Art Education Association, covers a diverse range of topics dealing with subjects of professional¬† interest to art educators. Each issue features a full-color Instructional Resource section, making Art Education a great addition to every teacher’s reference library.

National and International Museum Education Professional Organizations:

American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums (formerly the American Association of Museums) is the one organization that supports all museums. Through advocacy and excellence, the Alliance strengthens the museum community. We support 21,000 museums, individuals and companies by: developing standards and best practices, providing resources and career development and advocating for museums to thrive. The Committee on Education (EdCom) a standing professional committee of AAM, brings together museum educators and other museum professionals to advance the purpose of museums as places of learning, to serve as advocates for audiences, and to promote professional standards and excellence in the practice of museum education.

Visitor Studies Association
The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) is a non-profit professional organization dedicated to the proposition that museums, art galleries, visitor centers, aquariums, botanical gardens science centers heritage sites, parks, zoos, and, other public-access recreational educational facilities, in addition to meeting their own organizational objective, should be effective meeting the expectations, needs, and interests of visitors.

Museum Education Roundtable
Formed in 1969, the Museum Education Roundtable fosters professionalism among museum educators by encouraging leadership, scholarship and research in museum- based learning. MER provides leadership in professional development for a broad and diverse audience of museum practitioners and educators.

The Group for Education in Museums
The Group for Education in Museums (GEM) promotes the importance of learning through museums and galleries. It is based in the UK but has members around the world.

Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies
The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS) assists the museum community in acquiring and strengthening its understandings and practices of museology. This website is one of the Center’s tools for serving the educational and informational needs of the field.

Regional Museum Education Professional Organizations and Roundtables

Association of Midwest Museums (AMM)
The Association of Midwest Museums traces its roots back to 1927 with the formation of the Michigan-Indiana Museums Association. After adding Ohio in 1932, and Wisconsin and Illinois in 1940, the organization joined with the American Association of Museums as a regional affiliate to form the Midwest Museums Conference (MMC)

Cultural Connections
Cultural Connections is a community of educators–from museums, zoos, aquaria, parks, historical organizations and nature centers–who inspire excellence and support progress in our individual and collective educational work in Northern California.

Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums
The Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving museums, museum professionals, and related institutions and individuals in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

Mountain-Plains Museum Association
Mountain-Plains Museums Association is an organization for those engaged in museology representing all types of museums in our ten-state region: Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming.

Museum Educators of Southern California (MESC)
Serving Southern California the Museum Educators of Southern California (MESC) is a nonprofit organization for museum professionals whose work is focused on museum audiences. MESC strives to ensure that museums place education at the center of all of their activities. MESC is dedicated to audience advocacy and enhancing visitor’s learning opportunities and experiences. MESC works to bring greater diversity to the museum education field, strengthens the role of museum educators within institutions, and provides professional training and development using current research.

New England Museum Association
For over 90 years, the New England Museum Association has been the only organization in New England serving museums of all sizes and the people who work for and with them. As a member you’ll find professional development opportunities, news, information, and the experience of more than 2,000 of your colleagues.

South Plains Educational Resource Collaborative
Formed in 2001, SPERC is a partnership of West Texas organizations dedicated to providing support for formal education through outreach programming, both on-site and in the classroom, related to classroom curriculum. SPERC’s purpose is to promote and enhance understanding, appreciation, and commitment to informal educational resources across the curriculum.

Western Museum Association
Provides opportunities for learning and personal interaction to enhance the creative skills and enrich the lives of individuals who do museum work in the west.

Organizations for Museums of Specific Disciplines:

Art Education

National Art Education Association (NAEA)

National Endowment for the Arts

Visual Understanding in Education

Science Education
Association of Science – Technology Centers (ASTC)

National Science Foundation

Children’s Museums
Association of Children’s Museums

History Museums
American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)

Living History, Farms and Agriculture Museums
Association for Living History, Farms and Agricultural Museums

Zoos and Aquariums
The American Zoo and Aquarium Association

College and University Museums
The Association for College and University Museums and Galleries