Can someone share their article experience

Art education in the museum

Each of the terms “art”, “mediation” and “museum” is undergoing a change that raises questions, and so does the conjunction “art mediation in the museum”: Which developments can be observed? Where are these changes going? What are the challenges? What changes would be necessary? Which perspectives on art education in museums are sustainable?

Institutions, associations, art educators, researchers and students are concerned with these questions. This article focuses on the concept of experience and is an extension of the anthology published by us, “Art Education in the Museum. A space of experience ”(Hofmann and Preuß 2017) that unites theoretical, practical and personal perspectives from 20 authors. The following examination of the topic, supported by text contributions from the anthology, led us to the realization that Experience to be seen in the phenomenological or pragmatic sense as a central point of reference: the museum is a space of experience in which something appears to visitors or something is made to appear for visitors; this is where experiences are made that initiate educational processes. This forms a decisive starting point for art education and museum education.

It should not be forgotten that museums are not power-free spaces. This would then have to be considered in further steps.

With this essay we are pursuing two concerns:

  • On the one hand, we want to strengthen the concept of experience in discourse. We advocate art education in museums that focuses on experience. This approach is not entirely new; the term appears again and again in museum educational literature: “Museums and galleries are social spaces and visiting museum exhibitions is a communal, three-dimensional, whole-body-and-mind experience. (... Visitors, FH / KP) are active participants in creating their own, personalized museum experiences “(Black 2018: 13). It is important to make this point of view strong again and again.
  • On the other hand, we would like to contribute to systematically establishing this approach. Because, of course, it shouldn't stop at just claiming that important experiences take place in the museum. Rather, it is important to clarify and locate this term so that it can be used meaningfully in the discourse. We advocate art mediation / museum education that is also located in terms of educational theory. This is not new either, but we believe it should be strengthened.

Space of experience

The authors of the above-mentioned anthology, a wide variety of actors from science and educational practice, develop specific concepts and ideas from their respective scientific disciplines or practical fields of action. These fit together well in one special respect and concept: Mediation in the museum is understood as a space of experience.

In the current art education / museum education, a departure from traditional art or museum education perspectives is emerging (place of learning, auratic place, knowledge transfer, visitor orientation; for an overview: see Hofmann 2016). The practice of classic leadership in a frontal setting is no longer the only format at museums; it is being replaced by dialogical forms and interactive formats.

Increasingly, instructive notions of pedagogy (i.e. pedagogues convey secure and authorized knowledge to participants) are being replaced by constructivist learning theories, according to which participants actively construct knowledge (Hooper-Greenhill 1992; Falk and Dierking 2000; Black 2005). In our opinion, this idea also falls short of the mark. Because the psychological-constructivist concept of learning is usually associated with the acquisition of knowledge (cf. Hofmann 2016: 47 ff.), Thus neglecting aspects such as surprise, pleasure, irritation, sensuality and much more. However, it is precisely these aspects that play a major role in museums (e.g. Hofmann 2015). It seems more sensible to us to conceptualize art mediation on the basis of experience or to start from an understanding of learning as experience (Meyer-Drawe 2008).

On the concept of experience

The German word “learn” is etymologically derived from the Gothic “lais”, which means something like “I hiked”, “I experienced”, “I know” (Koch 2008: 365). Learning through experience touches us directly, because it happens to us, that is what makes it so authentic and evident. We did not recognize this learning from other people or from books, but ourselves, experienced it ourselves (ibid.). Even for Rousseau, the first theoretician of pedagogical experience, the true teachers are experience and feeling (Rousseau 1762/1970: 378).

The concept of experience is difficult to grasp because it is associated with different contexts and with different learning concepts. Gadamer already counted the concept of experience as one of the “most unenlightened concepts” (Gadamer 1965 quoted from Koch 2008: 329). A distinction must be made between the different meanings of learning through experience: experience itself as learning, learning from and through experience, experience as an occasion / beginning of learning and experience with learning (Koch 2008: 366).

Kant was convinced “that all our knowledge begins with experience” (Kant 1787/1967). Experience is a "product of the senses and the understanding" (Kant 1783/2017 § 20). Experience carries and makes every individual in their own way. Whose experience, from which point of view, has which background? Cultural and age-related differences play a role in making, receiving, passing on and conveying experiences. In the age of the new media, the exchange of experiences has taken on a new role. The current and future visitors of cultural institutions are people who draw knowledge from a wide variety of contexts; it is no longer just institutional knowledge that is received. And future art will continue to develop: “It breaks its high-cultural fetters and leaves the prison of its autonomy. She will look for new places, new times, and new audiences. She will experiment with formats in which the usual institutions become variables. ”(Baecker 2012).

The “Next Art Education”, according to Torsten Meyer “[...] knows: The next art does not remain unaffected by the world in which it is created. It deals with current objects of current life, it uses current display technologies for this and it operates on the basis of everyday cultural facts ”(Kolb and Meyer 2015). Art education must therefore be thought into the future; it should be oriented towards the next generations of museum visitors and the next generation of artists. In this context, “experience” seems to open up a space for us that gives future developments and perspectives a place.

The term “experience” is used in various disciplines and theoretical frameworks, in particular in phenomenology, pragmatism, eco-psychology and (structural) psychoanalysis. In educational science and art education, reference is often made to phenomenology or pragmatism (for aesthetic or cultural education: Mollenhauer 1987, 1990; Meyer-Drawe 1984; Westphal 1997; Westphal and Brinkmann 2015; Hallmann 2016). In the following, we would therefore like to sound out to what extent these theoretical frameworks can be useful points of reference for art mediation / museum education.

The concept of experience in philosophy

While in philosophy there were two opposing approaches to the world with Bacon and Descartes, namely the experimental experience beyond theoretical concepts (empiricism) and the disciplining of the mind, i.e. the objectification of sensory perceptions, this changes with Hume and Kant represents sensory perception as an inner experience (Schenk and Tompson 2012). According to Kant, human knowledge is tied to experience (Schenk and Tompson 2012), that is, experience stands between pure sensory and pure intellectual activity. First, however, the opposites were further emphasized, and in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries the empirical concept of experience (experience is given) and the idealistic concept of experience (experience is made through concepts) faced each other (Dieckmann 1993: 404 ). This left open “the big questions about the limits of reason, the meaning of the aesthetic and corporeal and of authenticity” (ibid .: 325) or the relationship between knowledge and meaning / meaning.

Two philosophical concepts take up these questions in modern times and offer approaches to solving these problems by redefining the concept of experience: pragmatism on the one hand and phenomenology on the other.

In the following sections, the two perspectives on the concept of experience will be outlined and asked to what extent they can be a meaningful basis for conveying art. Both served and are often used in education as a way to relate to the real world and to a conception of learning in the sense of an authentic, binding, reliable experience (Schenk and Tompson 2012: 326). However, they raise questions about the type of experience, about its availability and controllability, about the role of the body, about social processes and power. In the following sections, the two perspectives on the concept of experience will be outlined and asked to what extent they can be a meaningful basis for conveying art.

The concept of experience in pragmatism

Pragmatism was first developed as a philosophical theory in 1871 in a club around Charles Sanders Peirce at Harvard University, but received great attention and importance primarily through the educational theory and practice of John Dewey (Oelkers 2009), who explained the importance of pragmatism for the Aesthetic education discussed (Dietrich et al. 2013: 58ff.). An important characteristic of pragmatism is the criticism of the concept of truth (Metzler 2001) and the reference to concrete human practice (Reichenbach 2007). The challenge of rapidly growing cities at the beginning of the 20th century (especially in Chicago) could only be met with an integrative education, with a restructuring of the educational system. John Dewey (1859-1952), American philosopher, educator and psychologist, placed experience and democracy against idealism and tradition at the center of his theory (Oelkers 2009). In experience, let there be a connection between subject and object (the subject has an experience with an object); the traditional dualism between learner and learning content is virtually eliminated. There would also no longer have to be a distinction between learning content and learning - experience describes the object of the experience as well as the experience itself (Metzler 2001). In his book “Art as Experience”, Dewey deals with everyday experience and aesthetic awareness. “Experiences are made constantly, because the interaction between living creatures and the environment is part of the actual life process” (Dewey 1958/1980: 47).

Pedagogy is then no longer the transfer of knowledge or the organization of a learning process, but growth. According to Dewey, “the ideal of growth results in the notion that education is an ongoing reorganization or reconstruction of experience. Upbringing and education always have an immediate goal, and as far as the associated activity is educational, this goal is also achieved - the direct transformation of the quality of experience ”(Dewey 1916/1985: 82). Dewey assumes that a person always has social experience, which is why there is no 'tabula rasa' of experience, just as there is no zero point of development. "Upbringing can reorganize the experience, ie add something to the existing meanings or improve the ability to shape subsequent experiences" (Oelkers 2009: 97).

Dewey conceptualized learning as a process of experience; What is important here is not the enrichment of the subject, but the reorganization of the context of action between the environment and the organism (Horn 2011). The idea that an educator (a museum educator, an audio guide, an exhibition) teaches an educator (a child, a visitor) is obsolete. It is replaced by the idea that people in certain situations have experiences with things and people that make them grow.

The concept of experience in phenomenology

Epistemological dimension

The concept of experience becomes central in phenomenology because it adopts a new perspective on the world: the world (and thus also we ourselves) confronts us as a phenomenon; the world will learn from us. Phenomenology is therefore not interested in the 'facticities' of the world (a car, a sunset), but in how we experience them or how they appear to us (Deibl 2012). This depends both on the object and on the viewer: a car can be a completely different experience for the proud driver license holder than for environmentalists, and a sunset can be a completely different experience for lovers than for the homeless.

The founder of phenomenology, the philosopher Edmund Husserl, removes the difference between world and consciousness as a complementarity: With the concept of "lifeworld" (Husserl 1954) he combines both in the idea that this phenomenon both through the world and is constituted by one's own consciousness. Alfred Schütz's lifeworld analysis later became “one of the decisive foundations for qualitative research methods” (Gudjons 2012: 44). Through a 'naive view of the world' (Helmut Plessner) and a direct view of the essence, one tries to “grasp a phenomenon in and of itself and to become one Insight into being to get the sensefrom which an object (or human behavior, FH) can only be understood ”(Gudjons 2012: 44). What insight is meant by this becomes clear from the following example: “Anyone who sees orange as a color and wants to describe the color quality phenomenologically, has to deal with a uniform fact; whoever explains that orange is a mixture of red and yellow, analyzes, he does not do phenomenology but physics ”(Hoffmann 1980: 82) and misses its essence.

But the "things themselves that are at stake are not unobscured to us" (Waldenfels 1992: 17). With Maurice Merlau-Ponty, the corporeality plays a central role in this, because the body stands as the 'third dimension' on this side of pure consciousness and pure nature, of activity and passivity, of autonomy and dependence, on this side also of reflective and positive knowledge ”(ibid .: 59). Intentionality, temporality and intersubjectivity also shape the experience of a phenomenon (Brinkmann 2015: 35). The phenomenon that appears is thus 'shadowed' by various processes.

This results in a double determination of the phenomenon, namely on the one hand by the thing and on the other hand by the shadows, by the horizon in front of which it is experienced. “The horizon and things belong to two different epistemological orders. The thing is individual and given, the horizon is fluidly interrupted and potential - a space of possibilities for what can appear concretely ”(Brinkmann 2015: 36). The same applies to the analysis of the phenomenon, because "what is talked about (is) inseparable from how it is talked about" (ibid .: 34).

Phenomenological Education

Phenomenology played a prominent role in educational science in the 20th century (Schenk and Tompson 2012). The philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels plays an important role in aesthetic and cultural education, addressing the aspects of sensuality, synaesthesia, aesthetics and the importance of the arts (Waldenfels 1992). For him, “the foreign” is central (Waldenfels 1997), something that we encounter, that comes towards us, that has a claim on us. “The foreign shows itself by withdrawing from us. It haunts us and makes us uneasy even before we let it in or try to fight it off ”(Waldenfels 1997: 42). In this sense, art can function as something foreign and trigger educational processes (Koller 2016). For many representatives of aesthetic and cultural education, phenomenology forms an important theoretical framework. Due to the increasingly empirical orientation of the educational sciences, the phenomenological educational sciences (understood as humanities) have faded into the background in recent years. Malte Brinkmann is currently reformulating phenomenological educational science as empirical phenomenology; however not specifically related to cultural education (Brinkmann 2010; Brinkmann et al. 2015).

Traditionally, phenomenological educational science argues with Husserl, Gadamer and Buck that “the experience in learning on the one hand through its Intentionality, your Horizon-likeness and through negativity (or.in other words: passivity, FH) is characterized ”(Brinkmann 2015: 43) and temporality plays a major role (ibid.). Learning as an experience is therefore “learning something from someone specific or from something specific” (Meyer-Drawe 2008: 18).

Brinkmann expands this view in a systematic and power-theoretical way (Brinkmann 2015: 44f.): He points out the difference between learning (as subjective experience) and educational practice, which is a practice of power (Ricken 2006). Learning is therefore also a “negative experience”, that is, an experience expected of the subject. This ambivalent practice, which, according to Foucault, is constituted by limitations and openings, forms the prerequisite for scope for freedom and enables “new orders to be formed in it” (Brinkmann 2015: 45). The educational sense of experience consists in the fact that it “opens up to something else, to something new” (ibid.).

Art education in transition

A Turning away From traditional art or museum educational perspectives, you can tell what is happening Not at the center of the text contributions in the anthology “Art Education in the Museum. A space of experience ”is: For example the (art) object that was still the focus of art education in the 1990s. Neither is the subject or the biographical, which is introduced through concepts such as artistic field research (Lili Fischer) or aesthetic research (Helga Kämpf-Jansen) and artistic approaches such as those of Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois, Peter Feldmann and many more educational practice found their way into the museum. Social issues, too, which occupied museum pedagogy for a long time in connection with feminism and social criticism, currently seem to be less of an issue; at best, these aspects are negotiated in connection with participation (Gesser et al. 2019) or post-colonial debates (e.g. Kunstsammlung NRW: Who owns the museum?). Visitor orientation - an important topic for the past five to ten years - is also rarely addressed. This may be due to the fact that it is ultimately based on a linear mediation model (cf. the criticism in Vom Lehn 2017). The articles in the aforementioned anthology focus on less linear mediation processes. The idea of ​​imparting knowledge, which has dominated visitor research since the 19th century, is less of an issue. This allows a demarcation from the museum as a place of learning (originally: Spickernagel and Walbe 1976). However, this does not mean that nothing is learned in the museum. But learning is viewed in a larger context: Many actors are concerned with conveying art in a meaningful way and considering a museum visit under the premise of “benefit”, “added value”. Such a "benefit" can be learning, but also, for example, aesthetic or social experiences. Therefore, many of the selected contributions do not take learning processes, but actions or Interactions in view. The museum as an auratic place is also not in the foreground of the articles in this anthology, but almost all articles emphasize the particularity of the experiences in the museum, the sensuality, the form of presentation, the Appear. In this view, traditional and more recent, humanities, but also psychological and sociological findings on museum education come together.

So what can be concluded? What is the current understanding of art education in museums and how is it currently being further developed?

  1. The “performative turn” or “interactive turn” becomes visible, that is, the Action orientation, which emerges in the cultural and social sciences (Kade 1997, Prange 2012): Pedagogy is no longer thought of in terms of achieving goals on a specific basis (as can basically be traced back to Herbart's conception of the educational sciences). Rather, the focus is on specifically educational action. In the museum, visitors * like educators * act in a specific way and this way of acting may be a more meaningful reference point for educational considerations.
  2. A new perspective can also be seen in the authors' view of the museum: This is neither about the neutral “whitecube” (O'Doherty 1976), in which aesthetic enjoyment takes place, nor about the instructive “learning place” (Spickernagel and Walbe 1976), where knowledge is imparted. Rather, that will Museum as a space of experience Roger that. So it is no longer to be understood only as a physical place, as a building. Nor is it enough to look at the institutional aspects of the museum organization. Rather, the museum must be understood as a social space, as an “espace” (Michel de Certeau, cf. Röttele 2017), as a practice. This changed perspective is central: the museum is therefore not a given, but situational, social, performative. It is a space that is formed by external specifications and physical design as well as by the perception and actions of the different people in it. In this sense, it is also of secondary importance whether it is a museum or an art association, an archaeological collection or an art exhibition. The museum is viewed less in its institutionalized form (on the concept of institution in pedagogy, see Göhlich 2011), but rather in its practice. Following phenomenological considerations on the (museum) object, which, so to speak, only emerges or becomes present as a "thing" (Meyer-Drawe 2015) in contact between an object and a viewer (for more on the concept of presence, see Lethen 2015) , the museum would be a place in which a space can be created in which things and people are made to appear mutually.
  3. This also introduces a change in terms of pedagogical terms. In the museum educational discourse, the concept of “learning” prevails in the psychological sense. Learning tends to be understood in a positivistic way in the sense of an increase in knowledge, is more cognitively oriented and related to reason (cf. Hofmann 2016: 47 ff.). The concept of “experience” or “learning as experience” seems to us to make more sense. Experience has to do with sensual perception and with a perception of being and being present (cf. Dieckmann 1993). Accordingly, Käthe Meyer-Drawe sees learning as experience. She describes the beginning of learning as “a kind of awakening that is triggered by a foreign demand.” (Meyer-Drawe 2008: 505) Through something, through an event, one begins to see things in a different light. “Awakening” instead of “understanding” is therefore the more appropriate dimension in the area of ​​mediation. “Learning is understood [...] as the acquisition of knowledge without an identifiable origin” (Meyer-Drawe 2008: 506). In learning, the story of the learner himself is in it, the conflicting process of himself, according to the author (Meyer-Drawe 2008).

    From a cultural studies point of view, there is talk of the “longing for evidence” (Harrasser et al. 2009), an interplay between the desire for knowledge and the delay of pleasure out of skepticism “that things can only be had in their mediation” (ibid.). Nevertheless, experience is not a “counter-concept” to reason: Since the Enlightenment, a struggle over the relationship between the two concepts can be observed again and again; Experience is the basis of knowledge, at the same time experience does not go without reason. In this respect, the term seems to us more suitable for art education in museums. In addition, experience is a central concept of aesthetic education in the history of ideas (Dietrich et al. 2013). And in its philosophical and humanistic tradition, it is certainly closer to art and museum education than the more psychological concept of learning.

    Incidentally, in some of the text contributions in the aforementioned anthology, a topic appears that has so far only played a minor role in museum education: the body. In the learning concepts that have dominated up to now, the body has received little attention; Phenomenological concepts, on the other hand, make the body (or more precisely: the body) central and enable art and museum education to take this aspect into account conceptually.

Perspective: art mediation in the museum as a space of experience

The emphasis on experience in art education or museum education therefore seems to us to make sense for several reasons:

  • The body or the corporeality of the actors is taken into account; the physical experience is an important factor in the museum.
  • The experience with things in their strangeness and their special appearance is included. The exhibits, for example works of art, have a special effect and shape pedagogical situations, thus become theoretically tangible.
  • The modes of appearance, the "shadows" and the horizon in front of which the museum objects appear are also taken into account.
  • The concept of experience also contains a criticism of the concept of truth. The idea of ​​a museum as a “store of truths” or as a canonizing institution is deconstructed. Instead, the museum is viewed as a place for negotiating interpretations.
  • This means that the focus is on concrete human practice. Subject and object, visitor and work of art are to be thought of together as an experience.
  • Pedagogy in the museum would then be a continuous reorganization or reconstruction of experience. Art mediation as a space of experience does not aim to enrich the subject, but to reorganize the context of action between people, works of art and contexts.

Six theses for museum education / art education of the future

From our considerations, the following theses can be formulated, which can function as a vision - in a reality in which power, institutions, historical-social relationships, pragmatic aspects and much more are formative.

1. The museum should not only be thought of as a place, but as a space for experience.

The museum is not a neutral place and it is not a factual place. It is perhaps an auratic place, but not understood as a temple, but as a place with an effect.
The museum is important in its function and in its action. It doesn't matter what a museum is isbut what a museum makes.

2. Central art and museum educational reference points are not work of art and learning, but appearance and experience.

From a pedagogical point of view, it is about understanding those processes that have to do with the subjects involved, with their bodies, their biographies, their relationships. Art education can build on a phenomenology of the museum.

3. The focus is on the actions of those involved in the museum.

Not only the educators and art educators act in the museum but also the visitors. These are to be taken seriously, including the reasons and intentions of their respective actions.

4. Interaction takes place in mediation and appropriation.

In this sense, the educational work is interactive and interactive. The interaction can take place in a wide variety of forms and media. A suitable and reflective attitude is necessary for such a pedagogical approach.

5. The aim and way of mediation is to enable educational experiences.

If one succeeds in turning the experience of appearing into an experience, then education takes place. The task of art education is to enable, stimulate, maintain and reflect on such processes.

6. Mediation is a shared experience and can only be achieved in cooperation.

Pedagogy is thus transferred from a vertical, hierarchical difference to a horizontal, heterogeneous difference: What is interesting is joint action. All those involved are involved in educational experiences and work on it together. This also means that everyone can contribute their experiences. In a field in which art educators have very different professional biographies, this also applies to pedagogues. Interprofessionalism as enrichment.