Abstract

Lee, Ching-Fang
Taiwan
C.73 | Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 11:00 - 11:30, Room C2
Learning to “read” a museum as a means of visitor self-education
Learning in museums is multi-faceted. However, most traditional museum educational practices have focused on the study of objects. Curiously enough, the museum entity is an enormous object, a huge piece work of art itself, but its educational potential gains little attention from museum educators. Without exception, Taiwanese museums hold on to these traditional educational practices, even during current museum development, which museum scholar Y. T. Chang (2002) describes as “on fire.” Under the assumption that nearly everything about a museum is educational, I will discuss viewing an entire art museum as an educational space that carries tremendous educational potential for visitors. Accordingly, I view the entire museum as a sign or a system of signs. Through a semiotic reading, I will examine the educational messages that are carried by a museum’s location, architectural design, exhibitions, collections, and public activities. The purpose of this study is to challenge the traditional notions of a museum’s educational dimensions and to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how an art museum educates its visitors, that is, to enable the visitor to more purposely interact with the museum and its contents, while making their own interpretations. Thus, a flâneuse’s manner of experiencing a place will be used as a metaphor for reading the “signs” of the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in Kaohsiung in Taiwan and the “places” within this contemporary museum and how visitors might relate to them. The purpose of this approach is to find the meanings of the signs and places in the museum, whether revealed or obscured, and to examine how they might function educationally, especially by encouraging visitors’ self-education. The consequence of this study is to provide an alternative way for visitors to learn in the museum milieu.
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