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For Your Consideration 5.1

America Preserved

The Library of Congress is offering an all-new, comprehensive checklist of the Historic American Buildings Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record collections. This illustrated publication is hardbound and available for $74 (including UPS shipping). To get further information, or to order, call (800) 255-3666, or TDD (202) 707-0012.

Museums on Your Computer

Big changes are coming to museums. New, high-tech tools are bringing “flawless” computerized images of museum objects to home computers.

Some museums, such as the National Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Smithsonian Institution are participating in the development of new CD-ROM technologies, making their collections accessible to home computers. Among the latest to enter into the CD-ROM arena is Art Treasures of Russia, a survey of the collections of Russia’s major museums. The electronic publication has rights to 90,000 pieces of art from the Hermitage and Pushkin museums, as well as several other important institutions.

Most museums find themselves far behind the few who are taking advantage of this technology. Will this difference create further rifts between small and large institutions; or, will new and exciting bridges be created?

How will these new technologies impact upon museum teaching and visitation? The reproductions available are said to be flawless. Will the public still feel that there are valid reasons to see the originals? How will the technology adapt information and appreciation to the viewer’s interests, experiences, knowledge, and age? What becomes of discussing the work with other people? What’s behind this high-tech door—the lady or the tiger?

What’s It to You?

The Japanese people have a saying, “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.” What implications might this saying have to teaching?

A Second Take

The authors of Touchstones to the Past, an article appearing in our Spring 1995 issue, would like interested readers to have the unabbreviated version of their text. If you wish to receive a copy, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:

Hilarie M. Hicks, 2404-G Griffin Avenue, New Bern, N.C. 28562

Project MUSE Amuses Us a Little and Delights Us a Whole Lot

It is always exciting and reaffirming to learn that educational scholars and researchers are “discovering” and praising a form of teaching that museum educators and docents have been using for years. Over the past two years, researchers at Harvard University have developed a program entitled “Project MUSE” (which is an acronym for Museums Uniting with Schools and Education). The goal of Project MUSE is to develop a variety of learning tools that teach students with ranging interests how to look at artwork, ask questions about it, and make connections between art and other disciplines, such as science and writing.

Lead by Harvard researcher Jessica Davis, Project MUSE has constructed an exercise known as the “generic game,” which poses a series of questions about art that starts off simple and become more complex. The questions begin with personal preference (i.e. – Do you like it?), move to what viewers see (i.e. – What colors do you see?), and continue with the image’s narrative qualities (i.e. – What is going on?). Ultimately, the questions ask viewers to determine if there are connections between the art and their own lives (i.e. – Is this work important? or Can you write a story based on what you find?)

Though many educational tours of museums are still heavily fact-based, a sizable number have been using inquiry and interpretative strategies for years. Questions like “What do you see?” and “What might be happening?” are hardly revolutionary to most docents, but, now that they are receiving Harvard University’s approval, should seem even more valid.

“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 5.1 (Autumn 1995): 11.


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