Research in Brief
In the classroom, students often tune out teachers who talk too much. Likewise, in the museum, too much information about art can cause eyes to glaze over. What follows are 3 guidelines for sharing information while promoting dialogue about art.
Question: How can we use information effectively within dialogues about art?
1. Be informed, yet consider the relevance of the information to the audience. "What an adult finds helpful might not be useful to an 8-year-old."
2. Invite people to look at the art first - not the text label. Encourage them to create their own descriptions about the artwork. For example, viewers might notice that "Piet Mondrian only used blue, red, yellow, black, white, and straight lines in Broadway Boogie Woogie."
3. Weave in information at key moments. For example, with Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, viewers might notice how the painting looks like an aerial view of a city with roads and small squares that look like moving cars. "This would be a good moment to offer the work's title and to explain Mondrian was inspired by the energy and music of 1940s Manhattan."
Read more about how to share contextual information in the article:
Hubard, O. (2007). Productive Information: Contextual Knowledge in Art Museum Education. Art Education, 60(4), 17-23.