IOE EPrints

The productive eye : conceptualising learning in the Design Museum

Charman, Helen (2011) The productive eye : conceptualising learning in the Design Museum. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

One or more attached document(s) are restricted.
534804_Redacted.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.

Download (14Mb) | Preview
Official URL:


ABSTRACT My thesis explores accounts of learning about design enabled through visits to exhibitions at the Design Museum, London, and drawn from purposive samples of adult visitors and exhibition curators. The research adopts a qualitative, multiple method case study strategy, which takes the Design Museum as its local context and consists of a small-scale museum visitor survey, a visitor research group, and semi-structured interviews with exhibition curators. The literature called upon is from the fields of museum studies and museum education; design history. design culture and design studies; visitor studies and learning theory. Through this review I develop a framework for data analysis which sets out a threefold notion of the museum concept as Active, Distinctive and Engaging. Framed by a critique of generic approaches to, and generalising tendencies about, learning in the museum, my thesis then explores the extent to which learning at the Design Museum is revealed as distinctive to its local context. These characteristics inform a conceptualisation of learning which I coin as the Productive Eye. The Productive Eye has two significant features. It is grounded in the specificity of the discipline of design and its concomitant history of exhibition design. Furthermore, it reveals a complementarity between visitor experiences, learning and curatorial practice. Such findings are atypical within debates concerning intel.Jectual access to the museum and within large-scale visitor studies, which more often reveal disjunctions between visitor and curatorial constituencies. Through providing an integrated, holistic account of theory and practice this study contributes both to professional practice at the Design Museum and to scholarship in the field of museum education. In conclusion, I pose the question as to whether there might be distinctive characteristics to visitor learning in other typologically specific museums, with commensurate implications for traditional understandings of museum professionalism in learning and curating.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Leaves 159-171 are appendices.
Depositing User: Batch Import
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2011 03:46
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2015 14:30
View Record in Library Catalogue:{CKEY}
View Item View Item