Emerging Practices: Early Learning Experiences in Art Museums
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Museum professionals are calling on institutions to provide quality learning experiences for young children. However, research concerning how this can be accomplished in art museums is limited. This study sought to describe developing best practices of early childhood learning experiences in art museums. In particular, this research answered questions surrounding the reasons why art museums offer early learning experiences, what principles and practices guide their implementation, and what impacts they hope to achieve. This research used a descriptive case study design with five exemplary institutions. Methods included an online questionnaire, interviews, and document analysis. Using emergent coding, the researcher identified key themes. The results of this study suggest some preliminary hypotheses concerning possible best practices for early learning in art museums. Case studies suggest that a combination of internal and external factors serve as an impetus. Analysis also revealed possible best practices, as all case studies designed their programs to be learner-centered and family-focused, and utilized similar program elements to encourage cognitive and socio-emotional development in early learners. These philosophies informed one of the most important areas of impact: making the art museum into an accessible, family-friendly environment. These results provide key insights into the developing trends in best practices for art museum early learning experiences, and create a baseline of data to inform further research around these programs and their impact.
- Museology