The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Museum Educators' Perspectives on Multilingualism in Museums

Senem Bas, George Mason University (United States)


Thanks to the variety and diversity that are already present within their collections, and with increasing concern to function as accessible, diverse, and participatory spaces; museums are well positioned to provide a platform for engaging, multisensory and intercultural encounters. However, for many museums, extending these experiences to linguistically diverse audiences in meaningful and inclusive ways is still a problem. To solve this problem, many museums are introducing multilingual exhibitions, educational programs and events in their spaces. In parallel to these developments, a new body of research on multilingual museums is growing. However, the number of studies focusing on museum professionals’ perceptions are very limited. To contribute to the scholarship in this field, this qualitative research examined the concept of “multilingual museums” by interviewing three museum educators from the United States and investigating their experiences with multilingual educational programs and exhibitions. Four key findings emerged in the analysis of the data: (1) involving community members in early phases of program development and getting feedback from visitors and museum instructors is essential for creating successful programs. (2) Cultural value orientations and differences have an impact on how multilingual audience can engage in museum programs, and they may trigger challenges for museum educators. (3) Engaging in full organizational change with the goal of attracting new and generally multilingual audiences is ultimately beneficial for museums, communities, visitors, and staff. (4) Lack of financial support and multilingual staff is the biggest challenge in developing multilingual exhibitions and programs.

Keywords: Multilingual museums, inclusion in museum education, multilingual education

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