This qualitative study draws on the literature on critical thinking and use of discomfort or struggle as a pedagogical tool to probe the impact and efficacy of discomfort as a tool for learning in museum spaces, specifically in the context of anti-racist education. Museum educators were observed teaching from content that treats race and subsequently interviewed to clarify some of their choices. Data revealed a tension between the educators’ appreciation for critical thinking and struggling with challenging content in theory and implementation of those tools in practice.
As societies around the world change, museums strive to become more inclusive for the growing number of people with a migrant background. However, academic literature on this topic is scarce. With their Van Gogh Connects programme, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (VGM) is keen to understand what is required to become more relevant to this target group. The VGM also wants to understand what is required in terms of governance to make the relevance and inclusion sustainable. The VGM gains insight into the matter using both impact research and a series of iterative activities involving the target group. This article outlines the results of the first case study and draws some initial conclusions that can be used to start working toward the sustainable inclusion of youths with a migrant background.
Museum participation is a broad and fluid concept, involving participation, collaboration, and power-sharing. With almost two million visitors a year from around 100 countries, the Van Gogh Museum faces complex challenges in its efforts to engage visitors, forge relationships, share authority, and achieve a strong impact. It is a constant balancing act. In this article two cases of visitor participation will be discussed within the context of museum practice: one example of contribution, involving 30,000 responses from a diverse public to universal themes addressed by Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, and one example of co-creation, involving a class of twenty-eight students from the Gerrit Rietveld art academy and relating to printmaking in the 1900s and today. We will share how we evaluated these participatory projects and how we measured their impact in order to find out whether visitor participation is working for the Van Gogh Museum. It will demonstrate the museum’s potential for inclusiveness. The conducted research was practice oriented and will function, we hope, as a valuable addition to the more theoretical research on this subject.