Discription On 12th-13th November 2007, museum professionals assembled in National Museum Institute to participate in a conference on "Issues in Indian Museum Education: National Perspectives, International Trends". The conference which brought together individuals from various museums and cultural institutions aimed at bringing to light the initiatives taken in the field of Museum Education in India by the Indian Scholars and also to examine the American Museum Education practices. This conference was collaborative effort between the National Museum Institute and United States Educational Foundation in India.
In the History of Indian Museums spanning over almost two hundred years, museum education has been an important part of the museums. Inspite of some good land breaking examples of museum education in Indian Museums, there has been no effort to deliberate upon the subject in an academic exchange manner through a seminar. Thus there is lack of a baseline and a manual for the Indian Museums Education System. The effort of this conference has been to create useful reference material with the Indian Museum Education Case studies along with some examples from the American museums for the students and scholars alike. The deliberations of the conference were around the status of museum education in India and the future course of museum education work. The conference sessions were designed to provide an opportunity for the museum professionals to discuss issues pertaining to museum education and education policy; museum education and schools; museum education and outreach; museum education and communication; museum education and social change; museum education and varied target audience. The focus, through discussions and questions, was on "where have we been; where are we going?" Few of the key questions raised by this conference were 'if museum visits are compulsory for students in India, why do they not come back as independent return visitors?'; 'How to convey the educational potential of museums to all categories of visitors?'; 'does the museum education system in Indian museums match with the education policy of India? 'Can Museum Education be a tool for social Change?'
This publication summarizes the presentations of various speakers in the form of paper submissions authored by the invited speakers to each session of the conference.
The proceedings are divided into two broad parts covering the case studies from various Indian museums and the experiences from the museums from United States of America. Among the Indian participants are noted names of the field as Dr. Saroj Ghose, Dr. Shobita Punja, Prof. K. K. Basa, Dr. S. M. Nair, Dr. Asif Naqvi, Renu Jathar, and Rama Lakshmi. The international perspective was elucidated by the American participants such as Gretchen Jennings, Alicia Stevens, Tim Groove, Dr. Ray Rist and Roberta Altman.
Articles by Dr. Saroj Ghose, Dr. Premlata Puri and Prof. K. K. Basa present an overview of the approach to Museum education in India. These papers also present the audience with potential possibilities in museum education through case studies and examples. Dr. Saroj Ghose in his article 'Immersive Visualization in Story-Telling Museums: A new tool for museum education' demonstrates the importance of hands-on exhibits in history museums. The paper stresses that use of technology has the capacity to change the image and conventional nature of the history, art and archaeology museums in India and enliven these museums. The paper, 'Museum "Education"- "Why" and "How" with focus on diversity of Indian Cultural Traditions' by Dr. Premlata Puri put forwards creative methodologies for an integrated approach to museum education for various categories of museum visitors. The article by Prof. K. K. Basa is on 'Getting Educated: Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya as a Facilitator'. The paper explores the role of museums as a facilitator of education in the context of Indian museums. Various museum education programmes of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sanghralaya', Bhopal are discussed in the paper as examples. In his paper on 'Indian Museum Education' Dr. S. M. Nair reviews the current status of educational programmes in Indian museums and examines the reasons for lack of initiatives in the field of museum education in India. A comparison has been attempted between the educational programmes of science & natural history museums and the art & archaeology museums in India. Dr. Shobita Punja in her article 'Communication and Outreach' highlights the key issue of lack of a policy on museum education in India. The paper discusses the potential of museums as high quality learning resources. The paper illustrates the various programmes undertaken in the area of museum education by INTACH, Center for Cultural Education Resource and Training(CCERT) and the British Council in India. Renu Jathar's article on 'Educational Activities of The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya(CSMVS)' brings forth the educational activities of CSMVS, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India. It also highlights the policy of CSMVS to view museum education as an effective medium for outreach activities aimed at enlarging the visitor base of a museum. The paper, 'Museum's Role – To educate or to bring about a social change' by Rama Lakshmi questions the assigned role of museums in the sphere of education. The paper argues that the role of a museum is of a platform, a story board for ideas, interpretations and narratives. Dr. Asif Naqvi in his paper 'Educational Role of Museums in India' reviews the historical development of museums in India and their educational role. The paper emphasizes that museums in India should turn into forums of non-formal education. The paper by Dr. Carol Ann Reed on 'Marginalized Youth and Museums; Exploring Cross-cultural Linkages at Sanskriti Kendra', highlights the perception if museums as elitist organizations not accessible to all sections of society. The paper presents the results of a workshop done by the author to engage young children from an orphanage in the museum programme at the Sanskriti Kendra. The paper demonstrates the relevance of museums for all sections of society including the poor and marginalized. Alicia Stevens writes on 'International Partnerships for Museum Education'. The paper discusses the need and methodology for successful international collaboration through the examples from American Museum of Natural History. The paper 'Moving Museums towards Performance Measurement' by Dr. Ray Rist elucidates on the need, rationale and benefits for the evaluation of performance outcomes. The paper talks about the techniques for defining and identifying effectiveness in museum practice. Tim Groove in his paper 'Intellectual Access to Museum Education' deliberates on the efforts of museum educators across the United States of America to increase intellectual access to museum exhibition by addressing various learning styles of visitors. The paper, 'An Introduction and Discussion Of The Web Site Exhibit Files' by Gretchen Jennings discusses the website, 'Exhibit Files' its goals and uses in the field of museums. Roberta Altman in her paper, 'The Arts As Catalyst Across Contexts: Linking Classrooms, Community, and Museums' explains a museum education project done by the author with a group of school students in collaboration with American Museum of Natural History. The paper highlights the use of museums for outreach educational programmes.
The seminar papers reveal the diverse range and nature of aspects of museum education discussed amongst scholars. This seminar was a small and focused effort to deliberate on the issues of museum education in India. It initiated a cross cultural dialogue amongst museum professionals in India and the United States. The proceedings are an endeavor to bring forth the discussions and deliberations of the seminar to students and scholars.