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DESIGN-HISTORY  February 2002

DESIGN-HISTORY February 2002

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Subject:

Gallery & museum visits

From:

Pauline Ridley <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

A forum for the discussion of design historical issues, and the exchange of" <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 25 Feb 2002 12:48:51 -0000

Content-Type:

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>       How do you manage study visits to museums and galleries? 
> 
>       I'd like to hear from people teaching on both studio-based and
> art/design history courses about any of the following:
>       1. Roughly how often do you include study trips in your courses -
> day trips, whether locally or to London or other UK centres, or longer
> study visits in the UK or abroad? 
>       2. Does your institution pay any or all of the expenses, or are
> students expected to fund themselves fully - if the former, where does the
> funding come from?  if the latter, what happens about students who can't
> afford the fare?
>       3. More crucially, how do you prepare for such trips?
>       and 
>       4. what activities are involved on site? (For example, do you
> encourage students to go around independently with a general set of
> questions in mind, set specific tasks or worksheet-type activities, and/or
> give a guided tour or talk to the whole group during the visit? ) 
>       5. What approaches have worked best for you and your students?
>       6. What are students expected to do to follow up visits (eg write a
> review, or some other assignment, or discuss in seminars?)
>       7. Any other comments/suggestions?
> 
>       I'm asking  for several reasons, out of personal /professional
> interest and because I'm considering compiling a collection of case
> studies and good ideas -  hopefully to be made available via ADC-LTSN,
> the Association of Art Historians and Design History Society. (There has
> also been some discussion of a publication about how university tutors and
> students use the V&A, which would have generic interest as well because
> the collections cover so many areas. )
                Briefly, my own experience of the above issues is :
>       On the course I used to run, we haven't been able to subsidise
> visits for several years, so had to abandon a previously compulsory
> European trip on equal opportunities grounds. However, prospective and
> current students often complain about this, because the alternative of an
> optional visit to a European city which we usually try to arrange during a
> vacation doesn't have the same social and educational payoff for the group
> as a whole. 
                There are still one or two directly course-related London
visits (about an hour's train journey, costing about 12 return) each term,
and we signal to students at the start of the course that they should budget
for this, although some still say they can't afford the time or money.  I
was always a bit woolly about how strongly we should enforce the
'compulsoriness' of this - especially given that some students have
childcare or disability issues making it difficult to join every visit. The
new Disability legislation may make it necessary to make up our minds about
this.
>       Depending on the nature of the trip, we might prepare them very
> fully beforehand, or give a preliminary reading, or else leave discussion
> until the following session so they can go with an open mind. I've
> variously used a range of different teaching formats during the visits
> themselves - including quite structured written guides to prompt student
> discussion in small groups as they go around particular galleries. This
> depends on the time for preliminary visits and preparation (and the most
> structured format I've used was for the Sainsbury Wing at the National
> gallery, where the installation was relatively static from year to year,
> so it was worth spending time preparing something  I knew I could re-use
> with minimal updating). More often, we give some more open-ended general
> questions for them to consider and discuss in pairs or small groups. I'm
> not entirely comfortable talking to the group in the gallery itself,
> mainly because it's distracting for other people, though some student
> groups expect and want this. Also, if there is too much emphasis on
> independent work in the museum or gallery, some students say that they
> might have come in their own time rather than with the whole group. How do
> people balance out these considerations?
>       Follow-up - our students keep a regular 'critical diary' which is
> expected to include reviews of exhibitions and other visits, whether
> independent or part of the course, so that is the main focus for follow-up
> work. I'd like to think about some alternatives/additions to this. 
                Any responses and comments should be sent  to this list
(but please also contact me directly at [log in to unmask],  if  you would
be interested in contributing to some research in this area, with a view to
a published collection of case studies  - this need not involve much of your
time, as I'm hoping to get one or more research students to carry out
interviews and write up the initial reports. I would then edit a draft
version for your approval )

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