Skip to content


3 live classes with Claire Bown + 3 video lessons + resources + private Slack community
No prior experienced required

About VTMO Beginners

VTMO Beginners is the first step in your journey to becoming a confident facilitator of discussions-based programmes around art, objects and ideas.

VTMO Beginners is a combination of self-paced study and live classes designed and led by Claire Bown (Founder of Thinking Museum and creator of the Visible Thinking in the Museum (VTM) approach).

For new course dates, watch this space! Or get in touch for more information.

After you have completed the VTMO Beginners Course, you can progress to VTMO Intermediate and Advanced courses. For course dates, watch this space!



For new course dates, watch this space! Or get in touch for more information.

All live classes are recorded if you’re unable to participate live. A new module will be released every week.

Upon completion of VTMO Beginners, you can progress directly to VTMO Intermediate


Lucy MacDonald

“As the only museum educator on a small staff, I appreciated the ways that this course provided a structure to carve out time for professional development and space to reflect on my own practice. I sought out VTMO Beginners because of the ways that it resonated with approaches I was already using in more informal ways, including an “adapted” approach to VTS (integrating information), and knowledge of Project Zero. I value the built-in flexibility of the VTM approach. Learning and practicing thinking routines feels like adding to an expansive education “tool kit”.”

Katrin Laureyssens

“… VTMO Beginners was everything I expected to be: interesting, with lost of resources and fun and wonderful guided live classes! It was well paced, with enough time to digest the concepts and attempt to apply the learnings.

Reem Rahman

“The VTMO Beginner course was very beginner-friendly with concepts introduced and discussed in a simple to follow manner. The combination of explanations, exercises and break-out rooms further aided in understanding and encouraged participation in a friendly manner. It’s given me a fresh perspective on visitor engagement within a museum context.”

The VTMO Courses

There are 3 VTMO courses (Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced).

Each VTMO course is a combination of self-paced study and live classes designed and led by Claire Bown, founder of Thinking Museum. In each course, there are 3 live classes (2 hours), 3 recorded classes, resources and a private Slack community. 

For a detailed look at what each module will cover and the thinking routines we’ll explore, go to the relevant course page.


What does the VTMO Beginners course include?

The course includes 3 modules through which you will learn how to use the Visible Thinking in the Museum (VTM) approach. All course materials are in English and are available to stream online.

You’ll also receive downloadable PDFs and worksheets. The VTMO course book is Slow Looking at Art: The Visible Thinking in the Museum Approach. You will need to purchase a copy of the book for the VTMO courses.

Plus there’s access to a supportive online community for course students in which you’ll be able to ask any questions you have about the course and how to use thinking routines to create lively discussions about art and museum objects.

Will I need any previous experience?

No. You can start the course with no prior experience. You can also start the course if you have some experience, but want to improve and develop your skills as a VTM facilitator.

Do I need to start with VTMO Beginners? Can I join the VTMO course at the Intermediate or even Advanced level instead?

If you’ve never done a full VTM training* with me before, then you will need to start with the VTMO Beginners course – regardless of whether you’re a seasoned educator or just starting out. Even as an experienced educator, you’ll learn a lot!

It’s called ‘Beginners’ as it’s the first of 3 courses that take you through the elements of the VTM method. Therefore in VTMO Beginners you’ll explore 10 thinking routines which can form the basis of your repertoire, dive into your questioning skills and learn how to facilitate discussions. It’s aimed at museum educators, guides, teachers, art educators and creatives who want to learn new methods to engage audiences with art and objects.

In VTMO Beginners I teach the foundations of the method – which will stand you in good stead for the rest of the courses. We also work on building skills – our questioning skills, facilitation techniques and more. The work that we do in the first course paves the way for the work we do in the later Intermediate and Advanced courses. If you’d like to sign up for all 3 courses at once, click here.

Just FYI, VTMO was originally designed as one course, but individual educators were asking me for shorter courses which cost less, which is why I split it up into 3 parts for individuals – Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Teams can still book the entire programme as one course.

*To register for my VTMO Intermediate and Advanced courses, you need to have first completed either the VTMO Beginners Course or a full day intro to VTM with me, Claire Bown.

Who is the course suitable for?

  • Individuals who would like to learn how to lead interactive tours & programmes about art and museum objects. (e.g. museum guides & educators, teachers, creatives & learning practitioners). If you’re an organisation, please get in touch to enquire about VTMO for Teams

How long will it take to complete the course?

The course is 3 modules long. In total, the course takes 3 weeks with a commitment of 1-3 hours per week outside of the live class. There is a different module every week and a live class. The video lessons are 20-30 mins long and the live class is 120 mins. Every live class is also recorded if you can’t attend live.

How much does VTMO cost?

The course costs €495,- including VAT.

What are the dates for 2023?

The next VTMO Beginners course will start on 5 September and end on 25 September 2023. Upon completion of VTMO Beginners, you can progress directly to VTMO Intermediate and VTMO Advanced. For new course dates, watch this space! Or get in touch for more information.

When do the live classes take place?

The live classes usually take place at 17.00 hrs CET (Amsterdam) on Tuesdays or Thursdays. You’ll get the most out of the classes by attending live (and learning collaboratively with the other course members) but if you miss them, you can catch up with the recording too. The recording is available within 24 hours of the live class.

Is the course ‘live’?

There is a live class scheduled for 120 mins per week for all 3 modules of the course. If you are unable to attend live, then you can watch the recording (although we do recommend you attend live to get the most benefit from asking questions). The video modules and all resources will be available for you to work through at your own pace and when it is most suitable for you.

How long do the video lessons last?

They are usually 20-30 minutes in length. You receive one video lesson per week.

How long will I have access to the course?

You will have access to the course for up to a maximum of 3 months (subject to our terms and conditions), allowing you to work through it at your own pace and return to it as required. You may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, create derivative works from, distribute, display, reproduce or perform, or in any way exploit in any format whatsoever any of the Site or Service Content or intellectual property, in whole or in part, without our prior written consent. 

What if I have questions whilst working through the course?

You will have access to an online Slack community where you can ask questions and get support and help.

How do I enrol on the course?

You can sign up as soon as enrolment opens on this page. Alternatively, sign up to my newsletter to be the first to hear when enrolment for the next cohort goes live. Places are limited! Get in touch to chat about any remaining questions you have.

What are the Terms and Conditions?

You can find all the Terms and Conditions here


Over the past 12 years I’ve developed an easy-to-follow approach that allows museum and heritage educators, guides and teachers to confidently design, lead & manage inquiry-led sessions with art, objects and ideas for any audience. 

Visible Thinking in the Museum (VTM) is a flexible structure around which to explore museum and heritage collections and their stories.

My book Slow Looking at Art: The Visible Thinking in the Museum Approach covers the 3 foundational elements of the method, plus the 8 practices.

Full of practical steps & helpful advice, this book provides you with everything you need to create engaging discussions with art and objects.

Slow Looking at Art: The Visible Thinking in the Museum Approach