Constructivism through design in art museums. An analysis of CAC Málaga

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Museums as cultural institutions have served communities immensely in providing non-formal education. While there are different kinds of museums in the world with specific educational objectives, there are also museums that leave these objectives vague and open for the visitors to make sense and achieve their own educational goals. Art museums in particular, have been known to take onto this kind of approach, often without even knowing. In doing so, they are often criticised for appearing elitist. This research has been carried out from a constructivist point of view, building upon existing theories and by employing qualitative research methods to find out whether and how art museums incorporate constructivist learning in their exhibition design. It reveals how museums can make use of different managerial and design techniques, from establishing pedagogical departments to hold educational programs and workshops, to employing implicit techniques where they allow freedom of movement by not setting a route for visitors to follow, exclude plaques from the museum space and use lightings to provide different experiences and to convey different messages. Along with that, the research also provides a glimpse into how visitors interpret the museum environment and how, what might be considered ‘insignificant’ factors, affect their overall experiences. It also gives a peek into how these factors affect museum visitors and non-museum visitors differently. Some of the insights from this research can be used to make the practice of designing art museums more efficient in explicitly stating that they promote constructivism. As a consequence of which, it is likely that the criticism of art museums being highbrow or elitist can be uprooted.
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