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2013 NAEA Museum Education Division Preconference:
Visitor Engagement in a Participatory Culture

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Fort Worth, TX

The 2013 Museum Education Division Preconference examines how and where visitors and institutions meet in an increasingly participatory culture. It invites art museum educators, students, researchers, and others committed to the field to consider what “engagement” means in art museums and explore how visitors and museums can together define the nature and the outcomes of their interaction.

Visitors are changing the terms of their relationships with institutions, both expecting and seizing opportunities to shape museum experiences. When offered clear paths to participation, they ask and pursue their own questions, generate and share content, contribute expertise, devise their own programs, and volunteer ideas. Museums, in turn, are shifting away from “serving” visitors to engaging with visitors with the goal of becoming more relevant to people.

The Preconference explores these questions:

• What are the key principles of practice that can best guide art museum educators in fostering welcoming, creative, and productive forms of interaction and exchange between visitors and institutions?

• What does effective co-creation look like when applied to gallery teaching, programs, and interpretive projects, or when employed to initiate and sustain relationships with communities or visitors? When does it successfully deepen learning and allow for authority and ownership to be shared among all stakeholders?

• What is the value of sharing authority and which questions and solutions can help museum educators reflect on and improve their practice?

The day begins at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth with a panel of leaders who elucidate key conditions for co-creating engagement. In the inspiring galleries of The Modern and the Kimbell Art Museum, participants apply these ideas during interactive sessions focused on art and facilitated by museum educators and teaching artists. Following lunch, conversation, and time in the galleries, attendees gather in small groups. Using case studies contributed by museum educators themselves, participants co-develop solutions to challenges and opportunities that art museums are facing in fostering meaningful engagement with visitors. Reflection, remarks from NAEA leaders, and a wine reception close the day.

»Due to room capacity, Preconference enrollment is limited to 250 participants.


About the annual NAEA Museum Education Preconference
The Preconference brings together art museum educators, students, consultants, and researchers to build community, generate new insights into issues and practices affecting the field of museum education, and leverage the knowledge of the group as well as the expertise of partners and specialists in other disciplines to strengthen museum education practice.

2013 Preconference Outcomes
Engaging visitors through the kind of flexible and open-ended modes that they increasingly expect in our user-generated culture poses a new challenge for the field of museums and, specifically, art museum education. Those who participate in the 2013 Museum Education Division Preconference have an opportunity to gain comfort with ambiguity, to explore practical and philosophical questions with peers from across North America, and to leave with a clearer understanding of when, how, and why to apply co-creative and collaborative strategies with visitors at their own institutions.

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Top: Courtesy of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Photo: Grace Lee

Middle: Courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art. Photo: Chad Redmond

Bottom: Courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art. Photo: Ted Forbes

 

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