International Journal of Art & Design Education

How does education support the formation and establishment of individual identities?

Volume 25.1   2006



This article examines how education could support the formation and establishment of identities. It focuses on museum education and in particular artist interrogations of museum narratives. These interventions into museum pedagogy are critical re-workings of the presentation of cultural histories in dominant narratives. The article examines the consequences of these interventions for pedagogy in the museum site, when linear narratives are subject to re-construction by individual agencies. The complexities of museum pedagogy are revealed and analysed in order to identify models of teaching and learning that are inclusive. The work of Fred Wilson, artist and curator of an installation project at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore U.S.A, is applied to explore notions of cultural capital and cultural empowerment through education in the museum. Throughout the article is concerned with investigating how the individual subject is formed and informed through the narrative. Analogies are drawn with the view that the curriculum may not be a neutral and objective selection of knowledge and that in the same way it is worth investigating this claim to enquire whether institutional presentations of history are equally subjective. If museum education projects are set by curators and education officers to meet certain curriculum requirements then there must be questions raised about the structure of narratives and the process by which they are disseminated. This article is an exploration of these actions with far reaching applications, to ascertain whether they can successfully promote social justice in education and empower the individual or whether they serve to polarise essentialism and multiculturalism.