Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Tufts Prison Symposium: Applications of Museum Education

The Tufts Prison Symposium illuminated the role of education in the prison system. During the two-day program, former inmates described their interactions with correctional officers, clinicians, and educators. They advocated to end a dehumanizing system that perpetuates a hierarchy of power and hinders opportunity for both professional and educational advancement. In the final workshop, Tufts students’ reflected on their experiences tutoring at correctional facilities and their unique responsibility as educators.

Tutors  described an educational approach that meets learners where they are, that cultivates a non-hierarchical relationship, that instills a sense of accomplishment, and that shares ownership over the learning process. Additionally, the tutors discussed the importance of valuing the whole learner and incorporating the learner’s experiences into the educational experience. They affirm that the learners’ ideas are valuable. For museum educators, their teaching experiences sounded extremely familiar. The tutors’ teaching methods parallel those in museums.

Emerging museum education philosophies advocate for shared-authority, encouraging learners to use prior experiences to derive personal meaning from the exhibited content. Gallery teaching focuses on skill development and relationship-building, rather than mastery of content. Teaching techniques such as Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) validate multiple perspectives and generate confidence. VTS uses images to inspire discussion and exploration; educators serve as facilitators, rather than content-providers. In this educational model, educators relinquish agendas and permit learners to direct the conversation.

VTS programs typically include a studio project, during which learners produce art that responds to the images they encountered. The art project serves as a tool to express both knowledge and experience. The general public rarely encounters inmates’ personal narratives. The three students who served on the panel recognized that the prison system purposefully segregates inmates from society, contributing to the dehumanization of prisoners. Museums have a responsibility to reflect the experiences of people in the community. The absence of inmates’ stories contributes to a dominant narrative that presents stories from the perspective of those in power.

Perhaps there is an overlooked opportunity for museums to partner with prisons. Such a partnership would provoke questions concerning complicity in the prison system and institutions of power, yet the initiative could create an educational environment that empowers the learner and expands the people we recognize as part of our community fabric.

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Historic New England to Host Conference on Preserving Affordable Housing

Historic New England presents Preserving Affordability, Affording Preservation: Prospects for Historic Multi-Family Housing on Friday, April 27, 2018, at the All Saints’ Church in Boston. The conference gathers leading advocates in affordable housing and historic preservation to look at the past, present, and future of our region’s historic multi-family housing.

Historic multi-family buildings, such as New England’s iconic three-deckers, once served as “gateway” housing, providing affordable options for renters and a path to home ownership. Can these historically affordable buildings be adapted to meet current needs? Can we preserve affordability while also preserving historic buildings, neighborhood character, and urban density?

Presentations include scholars and practitioners in urban planning, historic preservation, architecture, and politics. The conference explores how cities can approach preserving historic character while balancing sustainability, affordability, and diversity.

Join us for this conversation that brings together voices from historic preservation and affordable housing to consider historic multi-family housing and its place in our communities. See a complete list of speakers and an agenda.

Registration information

Register online or by calling 617-994-6678. The registration fee is $85 for adults and $35 for students with ID. Fees include a continental breakfast, lunch, and reception.

History in Hot Water – the Tea is Brewing Program Gets Smarter at Old South Meeting House

When: Wednesday, February 14 
6:30pm – 8:00pm 
Where: 310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108, USA 

Description: 
How do we talk about race, gender and power when presenting 1770s politics to students and the public? Old South Meeting House Education Director Erica Lindamood, Museum Educator Kelsey Merriam, and a group of teachers-in-training from Boston University’s School of Education will present a condensed version of our most popular interactive school program, Tea is Brewing™, as a springboard for discussion. This program reenacts the December 16, 1773 meeting that led to the Boston Tea Party. How can educators and participants give voice to African Americans, Native Americans, women, and others who were excluded from the “tea tax meetings”? Join us as we consider how to present inclusive, hands-on history for all!

This program is made possible with funding from the Lowell Institute. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, registration requested at http://osmhfeb14-18.bpt.me 

(Snow date Wednesday, March 7, 6:30 pm)

Old South Meeting House is accessible for visitors using wheelchairs.

Assistive listening system is available.
Old South Meeting House is committed to accessibility for all visitors and has been designated as an UP Organization by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Access questions? Call us at 617-482-6439

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