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The Contemporary Identities of Art Museum Educators as Told through Their Life Histories

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The Contemporary Identities of Art Museum Educators as Told through Their Life Histories

Reid, Natasha S. (2012) The Contemporary Identities of Art Museum Educators as Told through Their Life Histories. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Over the past three decades, art museums have been undergoing massive changes as they attempt to become more public-oriented centers that develop deep connections with diverse audiences. This new focus means more responsibility for and expectations of museum educators. At the same time, there is often far too little recognition of the important work conducted by these professionals. Art museum educators come from widely varied backgrounds, since the qualifications for these positions are inconsistent. Furthermore, definitions of museum education vary among professionals and institutions. The result is the absence of a unified understanding of the role of museum educators and sometimes a lack of credibility with colleagues outside of their profession. In these circumstances, museum educators are dealing with a growing identity crisis. Little research into the identities of art museum educators has included their narratives. Examining art museum educators’ identities through narrative inquiry can help them to become more effective instigators of positive change in their institutions. Furthermore, in researching museum educators’ stories of lived experiences, we are afforded the opportunity to reveal and derive insight from narratives that are not typically heard.

This study provided a locus for five art museum educators to articulate their current beliefs, attitudes, and practices related to museum education and the origins of these perceptions through rich narrative explorations. By employing life history research as a methodological framework, this dissertation explored museum educators’ personal and professional experiences to develop a more holistic understanding of what it means to be a museum educator today. This methodology was also studied as a form of professional development. The rich stories revealed by these practitioners were examined individually and through a process of cross-case analysis. The insight developed will help art museum educators, their instructors, and their institutions better understand what is necessary to optimize these educators’ potential to effectively reach out to diverse audiences in meaningful ways. This dissertation concludes with suggestions for pre-service education programs and in-service professional development endeavors.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Reid, Natasha S.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art Education
Date:12 June 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Langdon, Paul and Szabad-Smyth, Linda
Keywords:Museum Education; Art Education; Life History Research; Narrative Research; Identity Research; Art Museum Educator Preparation; Professional Development for Art Museum Educators; Art Museum Educator Biographies; Art Museum Educator Realities; Contemporary Practices in Art Museum Education
ID Code:974564
Deposited By:NATASHA REID
Deposited On:25 Oct 2012 08:48
Last Modified:25 Oct 2012 08:48
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