• University of Glasgow

The Museum as a Site and Source for Learning

Explore the purpose of museums today and find how they facilitate learning.

12,002 enrolled on this course

A group of children are shown a display in a museum

The Museum as a Site and Source for Learning

12,002 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Find out how museum collections, spaces and technology help visitors learn

What is the purpose of museums in today’s world - a world obsessed with technology? On this course we explore what can be gained from interacting with museum collections and spaces, and how to use technology to encourage engagement.

You will consider the ways museum collections improve our understanding of history and how museums can use artefacts to engage learners. You will also explore how museums can better use their spaces to create learning experiences for all visitors.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds MAGGIE JAGO: Museums have always been recognised as sites and sources of learning. They have the power to ignite curiosity, spark the imagination, and provide historical narratives that inform the here and now.

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 seconds ANNE WALLACE: The stimulus might be the building, a collection, or a single object. The museum experience can be a profoundly emotional one that endures a lifetime as it has been for us. But how can we design these kinds of experience?

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 seconds MAGGIE JAGO: I’m Maggie Jago.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 seconds ANNE WALLACE: And I’m Anne Wallace.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 seconds MAGGIE JAGO: This free online course from the University Glasgow, Museum Education, the Museum a Site and Source for Learning is a three week exploration behind the scenes of the museum.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds ANNE WALLACE: You’ll meet the professionals who collaborate in exhibition design, consider the thought process is they engage in and the challenges that they face. Through discussions and activities, we will explore possible solutions to these challenges.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 seconds MAGGIE JAGO: What to visitors want? We will hear from those whose task is to find this out. Why is it that some people appear to have no interest in visiting museums, while others are frequent visitors? How does new technology and new media affect the museum?

Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds ANNE WALLACE: Exhibitions are the mainstay of museums, affording rich opportunities for learning and in-depth exploration of museum collections. But what is a starting point for a new exhibition? Who decides and what influences that decision?

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds MAGGIE JAGO: Is the conservator only responsible for the repair and preservation of objects and paintings, or other much bigger decisions to made?

Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds ANNE WALLACE: And finally, we will put into practise what we’ve learned by creating our very own exhibition.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 seconds MAGGIE JAGO: Throughout this course, you will be given the opportunity for more in-depth study, using readings and research to develop your understanding of how knowledge and learning inform practise.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second ANNE WALLACE: Museums have been a source of wonderfully enriching experience for us throughout our lives. So let us take this journey together and discover the rich opportunities for learning that museums can offer.


  • Week 1

    It Starts With the Visitors

    • Course Introduction

      Overview of course structure and course educators

    • Demystifying Demographics

      Learners as visitors

    • The Museum Experience

      Looking at provision for diverse audiences

    • Lost Youth

      Why young people seem to resist museum visits

    • Breaking Down Barriers

      Some ways of engaging young visitors

    • Technology- How Can It Inform Visitor Studies

      Usages of social media

  • Week 2

    The Exhibition Takes Centre Stage

    • About the Exhibition

      Study of a contemporary art exhibition

    • The Role of the Curator

      Exploration of a key role in the exhibition process

    • Teaching Contemporary Art

      Some of the challenges for educators in teaching contemporary art.

    • Learning From Object

      An opportunity to explore ways in which objects help us learn.

    • The Art of Label Writing

      The skills needed to interpret museum collections through words.

  • Week 3

    The Role of the Conservator/ Your Exhibition

    • What is a Conservator?

      An exploration of the important role of the conservator in exhibitions.

    • Do Not Touch!

      Understanding why such rules exist and why we must respect them.

    • Condition Report

      Creating your own report on an object.

    • Preparing for Your Exhibition

      Getting ready to present based on what you have learned.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the way learning takes place in a museum setting
  • Identify a range of learning strategies for a variety of audiences
  • Effectively communicate personal ideas and collaborate with other learners to find solutions to issues
  • Describe the complexities of label writing from a learning perspective and produce examples
  • Explain the difference between key roles in museums
  • Apply what you have learned to design your own exhibition

Who is the course for?

Anyone with an interest in museums and their potential for learning.

While the Educators themselves aren’t available to facilitate this run, we encourage you to engage with other learners and there are opportunities to do this throughout the course.

Who will you learn with?

Leads MSc Museum Education at Glasgow University
Passionate about museums as a source for developing knowledge and skill sets. Believes museums can stimulate social, cultural & personal enlightenment

I am one of the Associate Tutors on the MSc in Museum Education at the University of Glasgow.

I am an Associate Tutor on the MSc in Museum Education at the University of Glasgow and also a Learning and Access Curator for Glasgow Museums.

I was Education Officer for Glasgow’s nine museums and galleries. I am passionate about arts and heritage and the learning opportunities that they can provide.

Who developed the course?

The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$44/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 11 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

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  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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