Museums and galleries as performative sites for lifelong learning: constructions, deconstructions and reconstructions of audience positions in museum and gallery education

Helene Illeris


In recent years community-based voluntary adult education has been under increasing pressure from neo-liberal discourses concerning the problems and benefits of globalization. Learning in museums traditionally connects to ‘soft’ humanist ideals of lifelong learning such as popular enlightenment, personal development and active citizenship, similar to those of the Scandinavian tradition of youth and adult education. However, even museum and gallery education has difficulties in resisting the introduction of discourses that, through new and subtle techniques of power, act in favour of individualized and marked-oriented constraints. In this article I take a critical constructivist approach to studying audience positions in lifelong learning as it is found in contemporary museum and gallery education. I use examples both from my own research in gallery education and from the case-studies of lifelong learning in museums and galleries reported at the homepage of the European consortium Collect & Share. I frame the discussion by using three key concepts: construction, deconstruction and reconstruction.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Helene Illeris

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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