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Title: The productive eye : conceptualising learning in the Design Museum
Author: Charman, Helen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2702 0036
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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My thesis explores accounts of learning about design enabled through visits to exhibitions at the Design Museum, London, and drawn from purposive samples of adult visitors and exhibition curators. The research adopts a qualitative, multiple method case study strategy, which takes the Design Museum as its local context and consists of a small-scale museum visitor survey, a visitor research group, and semi-structured interviews with exhibition curators. The literature called upon is from the fields of museum studies and museum education; design history. design culture and design studies; visitor studies and learning theory. Through this review I develop a framework for data analysis which sets out a threefold notion of the museum concept as Active, Distinctive and Engaging. Framed by a critique of generic approaches to, and generalising tendencies about, learning in the museum, my thesis then explores the extent to which learning at the Design Museum is revealed as distinctive to its local context. These characteristics inform a conceptualisation of learning which I coin as the Productive Eye. The Productive Eye has two significant features. It is grounded in the specificity of the discipline of design and its concomitant history of exhibition design. Furthermore, it reveals a complementarity between visitor experiences, learning and curatorial practice. Such findings are atypical within debates concerning intel.Jectual access to the museum and within large-scale visitor studies, which more often reveal disjunctions between visitor and curatorial constituencies. Through providing an integrated, holistic account of theory and practice this study contributes both to professional practice at the Design Museum and to scholarship in the field of museum education. In conclusion, I pose the question as to whether there might be distinctive characteristics to visitor learning in other typologically specific museums, with commensurate implications for traditional understandings of museum professionalism in learning and curating.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available