Learning, Engagement and Museums, a collaboration between Hayk Mkrtchyan, Marine Mkrtchyan and Davit Poghosyan (Armenia, ITP 2014 and 2015), Manchester Art Gallery and the British Museum’s International Training Programme, took place between 26 – 28 October 2016 in Yerevan, Armenia.
Including a mix of presentations, group workshops and facilitated discussions, the conference focused on museum learning and engagement programmes as well as professional development, and offered colleagues both in Armenia and internationally the opportunity to share stories, ideas and challenges in their current work. ITP fellows were also invited to demonstrate how the ITP has enhanced their expertise and professional growth, and for delegates to analyse current skills and opportunities for skills-building within the museum sector.
On Day 1 after opening remarks in Cafesjian Centre for the Arts by Ronan Brindley, co-organiser and Head of Learning at Manchester Art Gallery, in which he highlighted the importance of acknowledging that “we’re all learners first”, colleagues across the UK, Germany, Egypt and Armenia shared the aims challenges and processes of learning and engagement programmes at their institutions, along with advice and guidance for future projects.
The speakers were:
Ronan Brindley, Head of Learning, Manchester Art Gallery
Andrea Martin, Collection Access Team Leader, The Collection: Art and Archaeology in Lincolnshire, UK
Elaine Addington, Open Museum Curator, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, UK
Shreen Taher, Director, Children’s Museum at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt
Christine Fischer, Performance and Audience Development, Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Germany
Narine Khachaturian, Director, Hovhannes Toumanian Museum, Armenia
Ani Avagyan, Head of Department of Education, National Gallery of Armenia
Arusyak Ghazaryan, Researcher, Yeghishe Charents Museum of Literature and Art, Armenia
Nairi Khachadourian, Curator, Komitas Museum-Institute, Armenia
Miqayel Badalyan, Head of Karmir Blur Branch, Erebuni Historico-Archaeological Museum-Reserve
Astghik Marabyan, Head of Education, Cafesjian Centre for the Arts
Marine Mkrtchyan, Director, Museum of Russian Art, Armenia
All of the case studies were fascinating and offered varied, unique perspectives on engaging and educating audiences from diverse backgrounds. However there were many interesting common themes, including:
Partnerships – how they help you achieve more and provide additional resources.
Diversity – making programmes work for you, your collections and your spaces. There is no ‘one size fits all’!
Tolerance – awareness of cultural differences and being aware of stereotypes.
Self-awareness – personal development to help you deliver more effectively.
Atmosphere – leadership in institutions supporting and encouraging the programmes that are proposed.
Competition – the need to ‘raise our game’ in light of programmes in other institutions and attractions.
Awareness – ‘filling a gap’; looking around, and outside of, the sector to see what your audience/community needs.
It was encouraging to see that although different methods and approaches exist across the world and even across institutions, that each speaker expressed shared values of openness, inclusiveness and learning from others – including their audiences.