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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

These Ways of Working: Reflections on the Collaborative Nature of Staff Roles in Creating Space in Art Museums
by Medill, Kathryn Nellis, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2018, 244; 10811922
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is a case study, written from my perspective as a new museum professional and museum educator. The work explores the museum as an institutional and community space and demonstrates how museum educators may understanding their role and the roles of their peers in a relational way with the aim of increased productivity.

Using a contemporary university art museum as the setting, I and 14 of my museum colleagues, at least one from each department at the museum, discuss our understandings of: co-creation, collaboration, physical mental and social space individually and as a group. The questions that guide this study are:

• What do art museum staff members communicate about their understanding of their roles in co-creative and collaborative education programming and museum exhibition design in contexts of relational space in the museum?

• What indicators of internal dialogue are revealed in this exploration?

•  What do these conversations uncover about staff understanding(s) of the spaces that they work in as relational?

• What ideas arise regarding possible change for the museum’s approach to collaborative and co-creative education programming and museum exhibition design?

I utilize two methodologies, case study and auto ethnography, to create a relational accounting of my experience and how my understandings and perspective changed during this process.

I also incorporate a theoretical frame grounded in theories of relational space from Martina Löw and Henri Lefebvre to guide my research. To highlight my methodological frame, I collected observations and reflections about the one-on-one interviews and two large focus groups I facilitated in my research journal. I captured photographs of my colleagues’ work spaces to serve as visual aids for the readers regarding my process and interest in space.

Themes include those guided by the methods that focused on understandings of: co-creation, collaboration, physical space, mental space and social space. Participants also discussed additional properties that shape their understanding of these terms. They include: age, untapped staff talent, the impact of hierarchy in the museums’ internal structure, staffs' varied understanding of the museum visitor and power in different spaces.

From my perspective, these findings represent opportunities for new museum professionals and educators to strategically approach their transition from in-classroom learning to the workforce. These findings also present opportunities for museum educators to reimagine the formal and informal learning opportunities museums can offer those interested in a career in the museum sector and museum education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sharma, Manisha
Commitee: DiCindio, Carissa, Hochtritt, Lisa, Shin, Ryan
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Art History and Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art education, Museum studies
Keywords: co-creative education, collaborative education, museum educators
Publication Number: 10811922
ISBN: 978-0-355-90988-3
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