The Socratic compass
Visual art is approached as an autonomous intrinsic value and by means of the interdisciplinary practice, the wisdom of the artwork can be addressed. The individual and shared experiences are transforming, for they lead to insight and thus personal growth.
The museum of the future
My personal experience with art museums may be different from how young people now experience it. For me the painting gallery has always been a place where wonder and feeling of freedom led to excitement and inspiration. Since I am a professional educator and often visit museums with my students, I have become more critical about how young people are perceived and expected to experience the visit. Just like them I feel resistance in relation to the provided approach, methods and rigid cognitive learning goals. My love for the arts, its urgency and power are my personal mission to share. Therefore, I am convinced that we need to design a museum for the future and be courageous and truly innovative while creating and exploring new possibilities. At this moment young adults rarely visit art museums. Data on this matter are scarce and if available quite generic. There are a lot of assumptions on what they want and need. Museums seem to think an expensive marketing plan will suffice. I strongly belief that investing in a process of change is unavoidable. The policy is outdated. Education instead of promotion will be the essential key to this transformation of the museum. A participative and intelligent (learning) strategy and is the only way art to be for everyone.
What do young adults want when visiting a museum?
A new generation
Kunstmuseum Den Haag, asked me to come up with a practical advice to attract people between the ages of 20 and 25. From the startingpoint of my action based research I worked in co-creation with a group of eight to ten students in order to develop a method that meets their expectations. In various rounds of testing and experimenting, an interdisciplinary design was developed, in which they recognize their personal experiences. The practice and intention in the daily life of the target group, gave me insight in the habits and ambitions of an interested, positive and critical group. Content wise they insisted of needing a qualitative offer. The group is not at all impressed by ‘influencers’, large visual invitations, unlike what most marketing departments in cultural institutions think. The want to be taken seriously, be involved and feeling invited and comfortable. They want to learn, want to expand their horizons, and want to invest financially and time wise in this. They want to share their time at the gallery with their friends and family and are open to suggestions on how to engage more in the presentation.
What makes the change?
The Socratic Compass
Starting from a philosophical and educational perspective it is essential to me that an ethical point is clear; regarding that learning leads to responsibility and communication. Visual art is approached as an autonomous intrinsic value and by means of the interdisciplinary practice, the wisdom of the work of art can be addressed. De participant will have a significant learning experience, and thus a valuable visit. The museum (and the collection) will be linked to the experience of personal growth and be seen as transformative. The Socratic compass is a method addressing a combination of mediums. You start with a personal value-based question (using the compass). An audio guide leads you through an individual almost meditative experience. Guiding you to being aware of your senses, asking you questions, taking a specific place, assisting you of being more aware. The process leads to a dialogue with an artwork which will answer your question. This personal experience will be surprising and confronting, but mostly transforming and valuable. Afterwards a conversation is possible, where you can refer to a unique experience. This sharing of what you have learned is a great way to getting to learn one other (even) better. The visit has shown a totally different approach to viewing art, allowing to focus on intrinsic value and personal truth. This approach is constructive and genuine, instead of judging an exhibition based on beauty or questioning oneself in understanding the purpose or context.
Master Thesis ~ Education in Art ~ HKU ~ 2019 ~
Het Socratisch Kompas, een betekenisvolle leerervaring met beeldende kunst
If you want to read the whole thesis, you can download it here. Enjoy!