Today we changed the dynamics of our seminar by going on a trip to visit “Senator John Heinz History Center”, an educational institution made up of a series of museums that cover part of the past and present of the history and heritage of Western Pennsylvania.
Our goal for the day was to immerse students in a completely different setting that would offer a wide array of stimuli for them to explore two exhibits with the mindset of identifying aspects that we’ve been covering throughout the course.
To do that, we used a sheet to curate their exploration which prompted them to look critically how the whole exhibits were designed in ways that would be trying to persuade them in many ways about how to approach the space and the messages, artifacts and stories presented there.
Students engaged fully in this activity by collecting a series of notes and photos on aspects that they considered interesting, puzzling or which caught their attention which we will then keep using to work in class next week.
One of our goals was to present students with an alternative space which they may or may not often consider as being highly designed or on their potential professional radar. However, a museum does not only curate a particular educational experience appealing to all senses but also act as a medium to influence and propagate certain agendas, values, beliefs and understandings of reality.
Here is a quick overview of some of the questions in the worksheet:
And here are some photos of the trip: