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Special Issue on Museum and Gallery Learning in the Early Years

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Wallis, nicola 
Bradbury, Lawrence 


Over the years, the civic and social role of museums has developed in response to changing contexts and community needs. Gradually, children have come to be seen as a museum audience in their own right, with the unique perspective of the very youngest children only being considered relatively recently. Despite continued growth in Early Years provision in museums over recent years, the area is still often not well theorized, often misunderstood and frequently invisible to those not directly connected to young children. Our own work as museum educators has highlighted the need for more accessible, high quality and critical accounts drawn from first-hand experience with young children in museums. As reflective practitioners we ask questions to understand and respond better to our audiences. What does a visit to a museum feel like for a young child? How do we find out, when speech is only one of the means by which young children communicate? How do we support these rich visits for young children? How do we scaffold children’s learning without restricting them, like the seventeenth century baby-walker would have done? How do we work with young children’s modes of exploration when, like the feet under the boy’s gown, they are not always visible to us. This special issue brings together accounts from practitioners across the UK and beyond who describe their experience of working with young children, relating this to the theoretical frameworks and research evidence that inform and shape their practice. We hope both to inspire and to inform readers wanting to learn more about young children’s learning in museums and galleries, as well as those seeking to understand more about evidence-rich practice in cultural learning.



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Journal of Education in Museums

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