Art-based approaches to museum education

Lisbet Skregelid

In the PIMDI project one of our focuses was on imaginative dialogues in cultural institutions and we chose to explore this theme in depth through art-based approaches to education in the art museum. Even though educational practices involving guided tours and talking is deep-rooted and seems to dominate the ways in which galleries and museums attempt to engage their visitors, there is an emergence of experimental, sensory, and arts-based educational approaches in these spaces, as well as outreach approaches to a range of social communities (Christensen-Scheel 2019). 

Arts-based educational approaches in the gallery and museum space are understood in many different manners and unfold in a variety of ways. Artists are, for example, asked to facilitate workshops for  exhibitions that have no connection to their practice. Artists can also be engaged in the gallery and museum spaces to initiate some kind of practice that is disconnected from any exhibitions. There are some examples where the artists themselves are invited to engage with the audience in workshops. We see artist-in-residencies in museums, and artists doing artist talks. In addition, artists are sometimes invited as art educators to give a workshop that is very much related to the art exhibited, and still closely connected to the artists’ own artmaking. Calls for relational and performative approaches by Nordic researchers such as Helene Illeris (2005, 2009) and Venke Aure (2011) are relevant within this perspective.

Arts-based approaches in the museum can also be letting the art itself, as well as the characteristics of art and art theory, inform teaching at the sites of art museums and galleries. I think that the ambivalent and disrupting character of art is a relevant point of departure for thinking and practicing education in museums and galleries (Skregelid, in press). 


In the chapter ‘The art of teaching: A proposition for pedagogy of dissensus’ (Skregelid in press) in the book Artful Xchanges Museum Education, I describe how the teaching of students in the museum, and the workshops by the students themselves, have become a laboratory for exploring, playing with and experimenting with arts-based approaches. The way the students worked with the art school pupils in the museum during the intensive week in Kristiansand as part of the PIMDI project has contributed to an extended understanding of educational practice in such a space. By making use of playful and sensory approaches that disturb understandings of what art educational practice in the museum might be, they realized what I call the pedagogy of dissensus.

Relevance for the pedagogy of imaginative dialogue (PIMDI)

Experimentation with arts-based approaches within the field of museum and gallery education is relevant for the PIMDI project. There is an urge to try out imaginative practices that we did not know existed when encountering art. By using art itself as the point of departure, and its processual and dissensual qualities when planning and realizing art educational practices, the museum visitors might be experiencing the art in a way they had not previously imagined. 


Aure, V. (2011). Kampen om blikket: En longitudinell studie der formidling av kunst til barn og unge danner utgangspunkt for kunstdidaktiske diskursanalyser. Ph.D. thesis, Stockholm University.

Christensen-Scheel, B. (2019). ‘Sanselige møter eller kritisk tenkning? Formidling i samtidens kunstmuseer’. In C. B. Myrvoll, C. B. & G. E. Mørland (Eds.) Kunstformidling. Fra Verk til Betrakter , (pp. 22-46). Pax.

Illeris, H. (2005). Young people and contemporary art. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 24(3), 231-242. 

Illeris, H. (2009). Visual events and the friendly eye: Modes of educating vision in new educational settings in Danish art galleries. Museum and Society 7(1), 16–31. 

Skregelid, L. (in press). ‘The art of teaching: A proposition for pedagogy of dissensus’, in A. Sinner & T. Osler (Eds.). Artful Xchanges: Propositions in Museum Education. Intellect Books.