top of page

Children’s Museum Education: Transformation and Innovation through Creative Practice and Collaboration

2 December 2022 at 11:00:00 pm

Convert to local time with

Session Convenors

Chang(Carol) Xu, Massey University

Session Speakers

Sarah Fang-Ning Lin, National Gallery Victoria
Amy Duncan, National Gallery Victoria
Gabby O’Connor, University of Auckland
Chang(Carol) Xu, Massey University

Many scholars have challenged formulaic teaching procedures in museum education that impact students’ creative practices (Black, 2012; Castle, 2006; Griffin, 2007; Robins, 2016; Thomson, Hall, & Hamilton, 2019). And children are viewed as passive receivers of knowledge or “little learners” (Kirk & Buckingham, 2018) rather than co-creators and active participants or even contributors. With museums worldwide looking to engage students and expand their offerings, it is essential for museums and galleries to reflect their teaching practices and methods. This session examines the creation and development of new directions and possibilities to better understand children’s experiences in museums and galleries and the collaboration across different roles and disciplinaries outside the classroom to co-develop substantive and non-hierarchical museum practices. We welcome papers that address the following topics: new forms of children-centred praxis in museums; the possibilities and challenges of developing featured museum learning programmes and museum-based curricula; collaborative and interdisciplinary projects and approaches to children’s museum education; the role of the digital in developing collaboration across countries to co-design museum learning programmes and promote educational resource sharing; and the existing examples and future possibilities of engaging specially-abled children in museum learning activities.

Spotlight on Inclusive Learning at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

Sarah Fang-Ning Lin, National Gallery Victoria; Amy Duncan, National Gallery Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, engages a wide spectrum of students with different abilities and learning styles through creative and innovative learning programs. This paper will showcase two programs that provide opportunities for students with specific learning needs to engage with and respond to works in the NGV Collection and exhibitions. Mapping the NGV, is a pilot project that utilises Inefficient Mapping, a methodology developed by Associate Professor, Linda Knight (RMIT University). The project offers experiential learning opportunities for neurodiverse students to access and engage with art. The project also focuses on upskilling teachers and support staff with techniques for engaging students with art in meaningful ways. Creative Catalyst is a series of programs developed by museum educators, artists and authors to provide high-ability students with enriching and challenging learning opportunities across the school curriculum. The presentation will illustrate the interdisciplinary approaches to learning at the NGV; highlight the value of collaborative working partnerships; and share challenges that were overcome in each program. The paper seeks to provide an insight into current museum education practice and to identify possibilities for how museums can involve audiences of all abilities as active participants in meaningful museum-based learning.

Collaborating with Gallery and Museum Educators as An Artist

Gabby O’Connor, University of Auckland

For over 10 years I have been collaborating with gallery and museum education teams across Aotearoa during the production of projects and their associated workshops. Each time is like a mini art residency where I gain access to space for making and communities to participate. Between us we create a space of trust and generosity, sharing tips, resources, ideas, materials and connections. These relationships between the artist and educators enables projects to expand in possibility for the artist as well as the education team, creating richer, collaborative relationships within the institutions and between the schools and communities they service. Often, we identify schools that don’t get to participate in gallery/museum workshops, and we take the workshops to them, building bridges and increasing access to art and other knowledge systems. For this presentation I will discuss a range of past projects where I have embedded myself in gallery and education teams and the expanded possibilities discovered in such a practice.

Critically Exploring the Involvement of Artists in Children’s Art Classes in Art Museums of New Zealand

Chang(Carol) Xu, Massey University

I have over three years’ experience researching and working in an academic university environment to develop collaboration between different roles in art museums. My PhD project adopted hybrid methodologies and references that span disciplines, including Participatory Action Research, Grounded Theory, a Double Diamond design process, and a Co-design Approach. As part of my research, I collaborated with art museums and galleries to develop creative and innovative learning programmes. I designed and delivered two workshops in art museums with museum educators, primary school teachers, and artists who are Māori, Pacific Peoples, New Zealanders, Americans, and Europeans. The participants co-created a novel conceptual framework for an art class and delivered two art classes to test the framework in two art museums.

This research contributes to the field of museum education by developing a new form of collaboration between three different roles — artists, museum educators, and primary school teachers — in art museums, and conducting a collaborative reflection between these roles. This collaboration prototype becomes a way to effectively engage artists within children’s art museum education, and its benefits and impact can be documented and specified in various respects.



Chang Xu, Massey University 

Chang Xu is a PhD researcher at Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Her doctoral research focuses on engaging more creative practitioners in children’s museum and gallery education and developing collaboration between different roles in art museums. She has a particular interest in collaborative and interdisciplinary research and transformation and innovation within museum education. 

Sarah Fang-Ning Lin and Amy Duncan, National Gallery of Victoria 

Sarah Fang-Ning Lin and Amy Duncan are gallery teachers from the National Gallery of Victoria. Lin is an emerging scholar and recent graduate with a master’s degree in art curatorship from the University of Melbourne. Her research interest is in museum education, especially museum education practices among the Asian-Pacific region. Amy Duncan is currently undertaking a Master of Art Therapy at La Trobe University. She is passionate about educational projects and programs that provide meaningful opportunities in the museum setting for students of all abilities and learning styles to overcome barriers and discover a love of learning and creativity. 

Gabby O’Connor, University of Auckland 

Gabby O’Connor is an artist, transdisciplinary researcher, educator and PhD candidate. Her art practice operates across multiple disciplines and audiences and frequently involves collaboration and co-creation with primary school-aged students, communities and scientists. In 12 recent projects, she has worked with over 9000 students in over 100 workshops and schools. Her current research is looking at how you can engage communities, using art as the delivery system for climate change and marine science research. In 2015 and 2016 she accompanied a team of Physical oceanographers to Antarctica to document the science research in action and to collect scientific data about sea-ice platelets (ice crystals). This research has culminated in a series of academic papers, international and NZ exhibitions and collaborative art-science workshops in schools in NZ.

bottom of page