Why Museums Are Great Learning Resources
As I am taking summer treks with my kids to museums and historical sites, I am realizing how wonderfully powerful these institutions can be to inspire learning. Granted I have the privilege of easy access to a number of these by living in New York City, but your geographic location no longer needs to limit the cultural institutions to which you and your students have access.
As I wrote about previously, even noted astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has said that a museum trip inspired his educational journey. With access to hands-on learning and original source materials, museums have long been esteemed for their educational value. If, however, you doubted the power of museums to impact student learning, check out the article “Art Makes You Smart” which references studies that show how structured museum visits lead to statistically significant gains in critical thinking and empathy. The benefits were largest for minority, low-income, and rural students. You can also see more research into the impact of museums on early learners.
Museums are no longer the stuffy, boring mausoleums of the past. Museum curators are doing more and more to draw in young people with hands-on and family-friendly exhibits. They are even beginning to incorporate augmented reality experiences into museum visits.
Even so, scheduling a museum trip requires a great deal of planning and effort that cannot always be accommodated. That’s why it is so wonderful that many museums have released digital resources for educators including apps that include virtual tours. Here is a list of ones I recommend.
- NY Hall of Science – teacher PDs & school programs and 5 great science and math concept apps as well as their science journal
- The Met – just released 375,000 digital images along with an educators page & lessons
- The Smithsonian – an education page full of resources and a virtual tour
- American Museum of Natural History – find a number of educator resources including educators’ evenings
- Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) – teacher resources including online courses & workshops
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – educational resources with many available for those with disabilities
- New York Historical Society – an extensive curriculum library along with other resources
- Cooper Hewitt Design Museum – lesson plans & open source resources
- Brooklyn Museum – teacher resources for film, photography, and fine art along with workshops
- Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) – hands-on opportunities on topics including costuming, political ads, and the history of video games – few online resources
- Whitney Museum -a teacher page including a tour of the collection, activities, & a teacher guide
- National Gallery of Art – an education page, Art Zone online interactives, images, & lessons
- Getty Museum – classroom resources & student resources including online games & videos
- National Museum of the U.S. Air Force – find lesson plans and resource guides
- Tenement Museum – access lesson plans & primary sources
- American Art Museum – resources including teacher guides & student activities
- Holocaust Memorial Museum – educator resources include lessons & workshops
- Skyscraper Museum – Tower Tube teaching toolkit, lesson plans, & worksheets
- Museum of American Finance (MOAF) – various educational materials
- National Museum of Natural History
- MOMA tour & MOMA Art Lab
- Intrepid Museum
- Air Force Museum
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Canadian Museum of Civilization
- Google Maps Art Tours