Fun, learning and “The Playful Museum”

Skeletons Visit the museum

Skeletons can have fun in museums too!

Who doesn’t like fun, play and laughter? Aussies certainly do, after all it was a drunken Aussie invented the word selfie and our current Bachelor is a rugby player / sometime comedian called the “Honey Badger” (and we don’t even have badgers in Australia!).

We do know that fun is inextricably linked to learning. Investigating the concepts of learning, education and entertainment in my doctoral study (Kelly, 2007) I found that:

Museums have a strong learning focus, with the educational role being one way to deliver museum learning, and entertainment representing the enjoyment, fun, leisure, emotional and sensory aspects of a museum visit.

As one of my study subjects said when talking about learning in museums: … now I’m older I can choose [what I learn] and there’s no really pressure and that’s why it’s fun.” Coupled with this, Janette Griffin’s research found that “Visitors interviewed in the museum were more likely to consider photos of people having fun as learning [and] Children declared that learning and enjoyment went together when it was fun, they had choice and they were with friends or family” (2004, p.S64).

With that in mind it is very exciting the the theme of MuseumNext Sydney is The Playful Museum, looking at the following questions:

  • How are museums creating playful visitor experiences?
  • How can our collections be used in playful new ways?
  • How can we use play as a tool for engagement?
  • How can we use play in our exhibition development processes?
  • How can we encourage adults to visit using playful experiences?
  • How do we measure the success of play in museums?
  • How do we offer playful experiences for children?
  • How can computer games, apps and digital play enhance museums?

But, you’d better hurry as the Call For Papers closes in a few days, so dust off those funny anecdotes, get your act together and submit.

We’d love to see you in Sydney!



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