Role of Museums in Promoting School Education

By- Dr. Pandiri Harsha Bhargavi, Author & Columnist

Role of Museums in Promoting School Education

A museum is an institution dedicated to displaying and/or preserving culturally significant objects. Many   museums have exhibitions of these objects on public display, and some have private collections that are used by researchers and specialists. But museums also play a crucial role in promoting school education by providing valuable learning experiences and showcasing cultural heritage. Over years they have evolved from passive collectors to active participants in addressing complex societal issues. This can be proved form the fact that the number of museums around the world has increased from just 22,000 in 1975 to 95,000 today. 

Their nature has also undergone drastic changes encompassing all aspects of life from birth to death. Their   collection has also expanded from just artifacts to weird like ghosts! Museums employ new methods and become intermediaries, connecting current challenges with historical facts. This shift is important for addressing complex issues and finding solutions in today’s world.

The traditional  function of museums has changed as global education levels rise and questions about object preservation, collection, and communication increase. Many museums have shifted their focus from collection and preservation to research and communication. They have become more effective in pursuing an outward-oriented policy and addressing current crises. Museums should not only display beautiful and interesting exhibits but also demonstrate natural and cultural developments and interrelationships.

They should assist in the educational process, focusing on problem recognition, critical judgment, and a sense of responsibility towards the development of relationships between man and nature and among mankind.

Museums are more than places where objects are exhibited and conserved. They play a leading role in bolstering the creative economy and act as platforms for debate and discussion, tackling complex societal issues and encouraging public participation. Museums should collaborate with schools and educators to develop curriculum- aligned virtual learning programs. However, challenges such as inadequate digital infrastructure, literacy, accessibility, and funding hinder effective virtual learning. Building partnerships with institutions and government bodies is crucial for expanding virtual learning initiatives and maximizing impact.

Museums are powerful teaching tools that provide an authentic learning environment, visual and sensory stimuli, experiential learning, and multi-disciplinary connections. They engage students with real artifacts, specimens, artworks, and historical objects, deepening their understanding and knowledge.

Museums offer interactive exhibits, workshops, guided tours, and group activities, promoting active participation and exploration. They provide a contextual framework for learning, encouraging critical thinking, analysis, cultural understanding, and empathy. Museums also promote independent learning and research, fostering autonomy, information literacy, and research skills. By leveraging these unique attributes, teachers can enrich students’ learning experiences, fostering curiosity, critical thinking, and a lifelong love for learning.

Museums play a crucial role in supporting children’s learning of concepts by offering tangible and experiential experiences. They provide concrete examples, hands-on exploration, visual representation, multi-sensory engagement, contextual learning, interactive learning, integration of multiple concepts, and personal relevance. Museums allow children to explore exhibits related to specific historical periods, cultural traditions, or scientific phenomena, providing context for learning.

Interactive learning promotes engagement, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Museums also present concepts in an interdisciplinary manner, fostering a holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of knowledge. Personal relevance motivates children to engage with concepts more deeply and apply them in their lives.

Our country has numerous museums that showcase its rich cultural heritage, history, art, and scientific  advancements. These museums provide unique insights and in-depth knowledge in specialized areas, allowing visitors to explore and understand specific topics. However, museums face challenges in delivering effective virtual learning programs due to inadequate digital infrastructure, varying digital literacy levels, accessibility, content adaptation, interactivity, teacher training, connectivity issues, copyright and licensing, security and privacy, funding, and resources.

Building successful partnerships with educational institutions and government bodies is crucial for expanding the reach of virtual learning initiatives and maximizing their impact.

Museums in our country offer various initiatives and programs to support children’s learning, including educational programs and workshops, activity sheets and guides, interactive exhibits and displays, storytelling and performances, collaborations with schools and educators, digital learning resources, and dedicated children’s sections or activity zones. These programs aim to engage children in interactive and hands-on learning experiences, spark curiosity, encourage critical thinking, and promote a lifelong interest in art, culture, history, and science. There are around 400 museums identified and a database of the same is available on the portal.

Private museums also contribute to the preservation and promotion of cultural, artistic, and historical heritage. They provide rich history and contribution during the timeline, also encouraged as a platform for artistic expression, historical preservation, and educational engagement, contributing to the appreciation of culture and heritage. Various thematic based museums support the visual learning material for children to understand the past.

The Ministry of Culture has embarked on an ambitious project of digitizing museum collections to make them accessible online and utilize technology in museum management. The digitization project aims to develop a digital accession register for antiquities, ensure a uniform pattern of collections management, and bring the collections closer to the public. The Ministry has also formulated a scheme for providing financial grants for the digitization of museum collections, encouraging museums to collaborate and digitize their rich collections.

Museums in Himalayas:

There are several museums on Himalayas in the Himalayan states. Most of the state museums also have sizable section on Himalayas. But here are some museums exclusively on Himalayas.

The Himalaya Museum at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand showcases mountaineering, Himalayan ecology, and culture, rare Himalayan stones, rivers, glaciers, and mountaineering equipment.

The Himalayan Arts Museum at Kandi Village, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh The museum includes the Tara Gallery and Tibet Gallery, shop & running studio.

Kanchenjunga Museum, Gulmarg, Kashmir was developed as a high- altitude warfare school. The museum houses excellent displays of modern warfare, mountaineering equipment and gear used in mountains by the Indian Army in Kargil war.

“The Hump WWII Museum ‘’ in Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh displays damaged US fighter plane, arms and ammunition used during WWII. There is a similar museum on the other side of the border in China.

Source: Himalayan News Chronicle