Museums Are Discovered to Have Problems Coping with Children's Education

August 3, 2018
Editor: Xie Wen
Museums Are Discovered to Have Problems Coping with Children's Education
Children read books at the museum. []


Parents and children recently flocked to the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) during the summer vacation for the International Art Exhibition, whilst the scarcity of museum guides looked to be a major problem for parents.

Wei Xiangqi, a Doctor of art and associate research librarian, made an explanation of the works on display. As a public education experiment at the NAMOC, this demonstration only invited about 20 children and parents to participate.

Parents all expressed their endorsement towards such an experiment. However, they revealed their concerns about the lack of such resources and their insufficient knowledge background, which may mislead their children.

Sun Zhizhong, director of Zhengguan Art Museum, stated that: "In the face of a rapid incremental demand of visitors, the museum is not well prepared."

It is well known that the staff of the museum provide guidance for children but are often in charge of other tasks at the same time. Luo Yuanxin, director of the Public Education and Media Promotion Department of NAMOC, frankly explained that: "The staff in our department are very limited and we have to cope with a lot of multitasking. Thus we only provide one explanation for each exhibition with the visitor number limited to 20, even though the actual number of applicants often exceeds 100."

During the explanation, Wei advocated inspiring children to mobilize their self-perception of art. He believed that art works for children must adhere to high standards. Many exhibits in society, which were launched in the name of children's painting exhibitions, were full of stylized painting techniques, which was actually harmful to children's creativity.

Wei also said bluntly that, "The artistic literacy of many museum guides appeared to be questionable. Some people introduced exhibits in a general way as traditional Chinese culture, when it comes to ancient paintings and calligraphy, if they don't understand, they will only make the children more confused."

Due to the limited manpower and capital investment of the museum, many market-oriented commercial organizations have intervened in children's aesthetic education activities relying on the exhibition resources of the museum in recent years.

Chen Keyi, the founder of a children’s education organization, has expressed her opposition against tour groups allowing children to passively complete the exhibition like visiting scenic spots. "The art museum is different from school and is a place for lifelong learning. Children are supposed to be there to cultivate aesthetic and self-exploration skills, rather than being indoctrinated," said Chen.

Beginning in 2016, the Art Museum of Beijing Art Academy started to provide parents with a parent-child exhibition manual at the front desk, with about 300 copies per exhibition.

"The explanation of each exhibition is limited, but as long as the parents feel so inclined, they can accompany their children to view the exhibition with the help of the manual," said Luo.

In Chen's view, the replacement of resources by social institutions and art galleries in the aesthetic education industry can make the collection resources more fully utilized.

"The museum provides exhibitions, collections and academic guidance, and we explain to children and form a systematic course, just like the external equipment of the museum, to help the museum better play the role of public education," said Chen.

"At present, children's aesthetic education in the art museum is still developing, and with the cooperation of art galleries, schools, families and social institutions, we are expecting to see, a more reasonable mechanism generated in the future." Chen added.

(Source: Women Voice/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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