Alma Dís Kristinsdóttir: Museum education: state and (im)possibilities
The aim of this article is to draw up – somewhat critically – a realistic picture of the state of museum education in Iceland and to throw some light on the importance of the educational role of museums in society both historically and culturally. The vast possibilities of museums as informal and lifelong learning organizations are examined as well as changing methods of knowledge transmission, epistemology and educational theories that have transformed the focus of museum education from providing information about museum objects to enabling diverse learning opportunities and participation for museum visitors of all ages and interest levels. Legal issues and museum policy in Iceland is explored and possibilities on how the educational role of museums can – or cannot – be fulfilled. The article draws on an extensive field research of 25 museum visits documented in a study conducted by the author from 2005–2007 called Learning moments: Museum education and families. One of the conclusions is the importance of greatly increasing professional awareness in the field of museum education in Iceland as well as understanding and active use of educational theories such as constructivism and free-choice learning in the museum context. A conscious educational policy for museums needs to be developed and adhered to in Icelandic museums. This would help increase awareness of the highly important educational opportunities found or missed in Icelandic museums.
Keywords: Museum education, informal learning, educational role of museums, constructivism, educational policy.