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A Study on the Utilization of Museum Materials in Higher Educational Institutions

Research period:2015.10-2018.3

GOYA Junko


Museum Materials , Faculty Development , Higher Educational Institutions ,


Higher educational institutions in Japan have recently begun promoting improvement in the teaching ability of university lecturers, and each university is therefore carrying out the reform of university education, or Faculty Development (FD). Particularly in workshops targeted at university lecturers, tangible materials are being reviewed as teaching materials because development of a teaching method in which students themselves play the leading role is now considered important. However, university lecturers are using museums only for educational visits by students to see exhibitions, and the question of what mindset should be adopted toward tangible materials has not been reviewed.
This joint research aims to review the possibility of more creative education in which higher educational institutions and museums cooperate so that university lecturers can provide students with opportunities to visit “the place” of museums and touch tangible materials for a practical educational initiative that utilizes such opportunities, by having discussions with parties concerned with museums. Through such an initiative, our goal is to contribute to the development of FD using tangible materials, to build circuits to connect universities with museums, and to actively utilize museum materials at higher educational institutions.

Research Results

To explore frameworks for new relationships between museums and the field of higher education, our joint study group engaged in a discussion of prospects for the utilization of museum resources by institutions in that educational field.
The utilization of museum resources has traditionally been associated with an emphasis on gaining knowledge from material artifacts. The visual examination of artifacts on display in museum exhibits and investigative learning activities that utilize museum-held instructional materials may be cited as examples of this emphasis. Although such activities are important in their own right, they arguably cannot be described as an adequate answer to questions about the museum as a forum.
During the three years that our study group spent discussing the utilization of museum resources, three viewpoints emerged, as follows.
First, during the initial year of its discussions, the study group arrived at the view that the utilization of material resources has a dimension that differs from study solely for the acquisition of knowledge. That view is rooted in the understanding that material artifacts themselves function as devices that generate dialogue and communication within a learning environment. Based on this observation, the discussions by our study group underwent a change in direction that shifted from considerations regarding the utilization of artifacts purely for learning purposes to the artifact-mediated creation of entirely new settings for learning.
Discussions during the second year of research yielded a second viewpoint, which involved the “museum experience” in the field of higher education. The “museum experience” refers to the experience with involvement not only in the collection, preservation, and exhibition of museum artifacts but also in curation, external communications, the preparation of illustrated records, and other activities required for the preservation and exhibition of collected resources. Through experience with these activities, learners come to realize that curation and communications are actually processes that attach meaning and value to material artifacts.
Consequently, learners that have completed the “museum experience” come away with a critical understanding of these processes and the ability to creatively harness them for the creation of meaning and value. In the third year of its activities, the study group gained a third viewpoint, namely, regarding museums as places for the discovery of the value in our world. In effect, museums are to be understood not as places for the presentation of scientific and objective knowledge in its totality or the classification of the world, but as places for the discovery of value in our world. The view of museums as places for the creation of value was one of the most important ideas produced during the discussions by our study group.