A strategy often used in museums is object-based learning.


Object-based learning explores material culture (art, artefacts, specimens, documents, etc.) so that people can learn about the object and its relationship to other objects, people, eras and ideas.


This method of learning enables the participant to look directly at an object, be it a sculpture or painting, an artefact or advertisement, and, using a myriad of questions, discover its role and importance in our world – past, present and future. Objects are used to initiate discussion, as well as make connections to the learner’s own experiences.


There are layers of learning around each object. A learner can first take a visual inventory of the object, describing their observations of its physical characteristics. This is a practical strategy that can set a learner at ease, listing very concrete things such as colours, shapes and objects without museum provided interpretation.


When exploring an object more deeply, an infinite number of questions could be posed, for example:

  1. How was it made, and by whom? And why?
  2. What can we tell about the time during which it was created?
  3. Would it have been created today?
  4. How would it be used in a story? Or what story is the object telling?
  5. How could a person today use this object?

The discussion that an object provokes can lead to connections in a vast array to topics, including social, cultural, historic, scientific, artistic and technological subjects. The activities and lessons incorporating object-based learning strategies are just as varied as the topics they can explore.


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