Universeum annual meeting Brno #6

Re-defining the educational role of university museums

By Natália Rocha, Superior Technical Institute of the University of Lisbon.

My name is Natália Rocha, responsible for the Educational Services of the museums of the Superior Technical Institute of the University of Lisbon in Portugal.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Universeum Board for the travel grant that gave me the wonderful experience of participating in Universeum 2019 and to praise the excellent organisation of the Conference.

I really enjoyed all aspects of this meeting – from the presentations and discussions to the party and the trips around Brno! It is clear that only special people can create special occasions! It was an incredible place to meet and network with professionals involved in university heritage.



Reflecting on the themes of the conference, I thought that university museums can be considered the bridge between the museological institutions and  society; in order to fulfill this role they need to develop strategies that provide and facilitate the exchange of information and knowledge between the museum and the visitors. Only in this way can a permanent education space be created and simultaneously foster social and cultural experiences, which in turn assign a new function to these spaces, such as planning and organizing their activities, preparing and creating  pedagogical materials for use by visitors during the visits .

It was evident throughout the various conference sessions that museums function as a resource and can improve their level of communication in the area of education through the organisation of activities, workshops, and the creation of teaching materials, while also maintaining forms of collaboration with the teaching. Museums as non-formal educational spaces can be good allies to the work undertaken in universities. They begin to become part of the “emerging new educational communities” while complementing other cultural horizons beyond the University.

The museological function of education is one of the indispensable functions inherent in the concept of the museum, complimenting the other functions of study and investigation, , inventory and documentation, interpretation and exhibition. Many of the presentations revealed that university museums are key spaces for the development of non-formal science education and broad scientific dissemination and can give science education a guiding light. In all the presentations focusing on educational activities it was possible to understand that education in the museum is a much more complex aspect of museological work and is quickly becoming also the most necessary. In this sense, programmes of cultural mediation and educational activities can increase access to cultural patrimony and collection in a systematic way.

I returned to Portugal with many warm memories.


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