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Using Film in Museum Education

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  • 2 minutes read
  • Jun 06, 2022

This question of using film in a museum setting is a bit of a challenging one. When I was a high school social studies teacher, I used film in my lesson plans to cater to the visual learners I had in my classroom. Now that I am out of the classroom and in a museum setting, the question of using film as a form of history education is still there however in a different way.

Many history museums use film as a way to introduce their history in a museum or visitor center, although I have found that many of the films that are shown in these museum exhibits tend to be outdated and quite costly to have reproduced on a regular basis. I still believe that there is a place for film within exhibit settings, although I am thinking about how I might use film as a way to train school docents or young historic interpreters. I currently work at Gunston Hall, the homestead of George Mason, as an education assistant and the collections management technician. I believe that we could use film to teach some of our volunteers. The school docents could benefit from watching a film as opposed to reading all the training material in print form. At Gunston Hall, the enslaved story is a very important part of the tours we give and also a very important concept for our docents to learn how to convey this story to school-aged children. I believe showing a film such as 12 Years a Slave, could help the docents learn more about the enslaved story and prompt some interesting conversation in a safe space during the training period.

Digital storytelling is another way to visually tell the history of an event/ place/period of time. I believe that digital storytelling has a place in museum exhibits as well as in the classroom. This could be an opportunity for museums and historic sites to create a digital story about their history to share with their current audience and a wider audience in an online environment. Digital storytelling can promote critical thinking skills as well as those historical thinking skills.

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