Working with Families: Thinking Outside of the Box with Play

by Danielle Carter When we think of play in the museum setting, we often think of science museums where children can experiment with scientific concepts through play, or museums that are made specifically for children. With this perception, it seems that play has no role in the traditional art museum; how can we make play attractive for our younger visitors? How can we engage in play that’s appropriate for the museum environment? And how can we get  adults involved in play too? First of all, we need to break down our understanding of what play is and what it can be.

3 Golden Rules for Successful Family Tours

by Danielle Carter Working with family groups can be a challenge for museum educators, especially when striking the balance between engaging the children and the parents at the same time. There are, however, a few different tactics that can help educators encourage the whole family to participate fully. Set the tone at the start It is important to set the right tone at the beginning of the tour. Make sure that this is done during the introduction before entering the museum or embarking on the walking tour. Get to know the family by asking them a few questions about their trip

Slow Food: Still Lifes of the Golden Age at the Mauritshuis

By Claire Bown The new exhibition at the Mauritshuis 'Slow Food: Still Lifes of the Golden Age' is a real feast for the senses.  It's also the first exhibition to be devoted to the development of meal still lifes in Holland and Flanders from 1600 onwards. The inspiration for the exhibition comes in the form of a painting acquired by the museum in 2012, 'Still Life with Cheeses, Almonds and Pretzels' by Clara Peeters. There are a total of 22 works on display with masterpieces on loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Washington's National Gallery of Art, Oxford's Ashmolean Museum and the

Interview with Katrina Posner, creator of ‘Ceramic Arts in the Golden Age’

This week Thinking Museum is proud to announce a new programme 'Ceramic Arts in the Golden Age' to add our growing list of in-depth tours. Conservator Katrina Posner has designed a special tour focusing on the wonderful ceramics collection in the Rijksmuseum. We caught up with Katrina to find out more: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?    I grew up in Los Angeles and journeyed to the other side of the country for college, where I studied Art History and wrote my senior thesis on the American artist, Agnes Martin.  After college I joined the

6 Steps to Stress-Free Museum Visiting with your Kids

I've lost count of the number of conversations I've had with friends and colleagues about how and when you should introduce your children to museum-going. Museums can seem quite daunting places for families when you are unfamiliar with them. So, before you visit, do some planning and get the most out of your visit: 1. Do your research. Choose your museum carefully. Ask your children where they want to go. Look online to check transport links, admission prices, layout and facilities. Find out if you can take refreshments and a sandwich to eat there (the Rijksmuseum has a picnic room, for example)

More than a Strategy: Building a Culture of Thinking

I was recently talking to a fellow museum docent about how they were given a 10 minute training on how to use thinking routines (from Visible Thinking) in another museum. A few routines were enthusiastically explained to them and they were told that these routines could be inserted 'ad-hoc' into tours to inject a little more participation and conversation. Whilst this may provide a quick-fix for those moments when you want to enliven a tour, this is not how thinking routines are intended to be used nor how I personally envisage their use or potential for use in the museum. When

Teenage Kicks at the Stedelijk

www.stedelijk.nl Teenage Kicks at the Stedelijk In August I was asked to lead a private tour for a group of teenagers at the Stedelijk, a museum of modern and contemporary art and design in Amsterdam. This was to be a small group of participants aged between 11 and 18 years old. All of the group were German, but some lived in Amsterdam and went to a local international school, whilst others were visiting from Berlin where they attended a bi-lingual secondary school. The tour would be in English but all of the group were non-native English speakers. Two of the

Thinking Routines in the Museum

As routines are part of the classroom, so they are also an important part of the museum experience. Every museum has rules or guidelines to keep visitors and the collection safe. Students and teachers are reminded of the correct behaviour as they arrive at the museum. These rules help students to understand what to expect and what to do. Imagine the benefits then of a routine that would help students adjust to the museum learning environment and to make sense of the objects or art works in a memorable and engaging way? Imagine what would happen if a museum used such

A Brief Guide to Thinking Routines

As I wrote in my last post, I have spent the past year developing a new programme at the Tropenmuseum using thinking routines from Visible Thinking as a method of engaging and interacting with museum objects. The resulting programme 'Stories Around the World' uses these routines  as the structure around which students can explore objects in the museum in a slow, careful and detailed way.                               Focusing on thinking routines is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to start working with Visible Thinking. A routine is simply defined as a sequence of actions or

Stories Around the World

  Yesterday was a very proud moment for me. Over the past year I have been developing a new programme at the Tropenmuseum for international primary schools using thinking routines as a method of engaging and interacting with museum objects. We invited teachers from international schools all over the Netherlands to come to the museum yesterday to find out more and experience a taster of the programme for themselves. There are two types of international schools in the Netherlands - private and so-called community schools. The latter receive a generous subsidy from the Dutch government which ensures school fees stay low. Community schools