March 2019

Power Play: How Educators Articulated their Role in the Museum. 1973-2014

Compiled by Nathaniel Prottas

This Virtual Special Issue of JME looks at our history and seeks to uncover debates around the value and role of museum education as documented in the journal between 1972 and today. The articles collected here investigate a specific issue in our history, namely how educators argued for power and responsibility in the museum, with a special focus on knowledge of the public vs. knowledge about objects. The articles highlight how museum educators used JME to argue for their relevance and importance in the changing museum landscape. While the format of the writing changed dramatically—from a more informal style to the more academic format now preferred by the journal—the debates invariably coalesce around a constellation of issues related to museum education’s role as advocate for the visitor. These include museum education’s status in relation to curators, the increased role of visitors, the emergence of evaluation as a central task, and criteria for the selection of objects for public interactions and exhibitions. In order to make clear when these debates emerged and how they shifted over the decades, the articles are presented in chronological order, rather than grouped thematically.

[download id=”1329″ template=”Spring 2019 VSI Intro – Power Play”]



Year Article Title Authors
1985 From the Chair Gretchen Jennings
1985 Training for Museum Education Professionals Nina Jensen and Mary Ellen Munley
1987 Reponses to “An Uncertain Profession” Judith White Marcellini
1987 Response The Uncertain Profession Danielle Rice
1987 ‘Not about stuff, but about Somebody’ Michelle Spock on the Client-Centered Museum Lisa Falk
1989 Museums and Knowledge. The Responsibility to Open Minds Lisa Roberts
1993 Beyond the Turf Battles: Creating Effective Curator-Educator Partnerships Jeanette M. Toohey and Inez S. Wolins
1994 Educators on Exhibit Teams: A New Role, A New Era Lisa Roberts
1996 Listening Outside and Within Deborah Perry, Lisa Roberts, Kris Morrissey & Lois Silverman
2006 Are Museum Educator’s Still Necessary? Mary Ellen Munley and Randy Roberts
2006 The Educator at the Crossroads of Institutional Change Barbara Henry
2011 Introduction: Protecting the Objects and Serving the Public, an Ongoing Dialogue Elisabeth Sommer
2011 Shall We Go for a Ride? Maxine Freedman
2014 The Impact of the Participatory, Visitor-Centered Model on Curatorial Practice Catherine Evans