You’re Taking Us Where?
Fifteen undergraduate students enrolled in an Introduction to Art Education class at an urban women’s liberal arts college participated in a guided field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston. The goals of the trip were threefold: (1) to take in the gestalt of the museum to familiarise the students with its architectural space; (2) to examine in detail as a group, fourteen works of art highlighted on a museum supplied map, and (3) for the instructor, Meg Black, to study the students’ museum experiences. This study, guided by George Hein, was designed to elucidate how this group of students from different social and ethnic backgrounds and with varying previous art experiences felt about the trip to the museum as expressed through a series of follow up assignments. The post-museum assignments — student writing, drawing, interviews and survey — yielded rich data and proved to be an insightful learning experience for both instructor and students. Analysis of the data supports the concept that personal meaning making is a significant factor in visitors’ responses to museums, even when the visit is highly structured. No simple, unidimensional categorisation of visitors adequately describes the breadth of responses to a single visit. Because individuals have different life experiences, different levels of perceptual skills and different expectations about any impending event, in this case an art museum field trip, instructors cannot expect to find a single “right” way to bring a group of diverse individuals to a museum.
KeywordsField Trip Previous Visit Student Paper Page Paper Experienced Visitor
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