Development of museum sector

Report: Current Status of Media Education in Finnish Museums (2014)


The nature of museums as a media environment has not been self-evident within the museums, and even less outside them. This report describes the role of museums as media and as media educators and investigates the current status of media education in museums. Within the museum sector, the museums´ relationship with media and media education has often been described as the museum is media or the exhibition is media. They have to be differentiated. The first statement implies that the museum is a media channel or media setting among all other forms of media, and the second that exhibitions and exhibition activities constitute one of the museum´s media tools. The material for the report was collected in 2014 through a questionnaire in the Link -making museums into media educators project, programmes of the Let's go to the museum media education week as well as courses during the project with participants from the museum, media and education sectors. In addition, the report is based on material collected from the web.

Based on the report, it is possible to distinguish between two levels of media education at museums: 1) comprehensive media education (media setting) and 2) adapted media education (the museum´s media tools and the methods to use them).

Comprehensive media education is described in the report as conscious, goal-oriented and systematic educational activities at museums. Pedagogical methods are implemented in the use of especially those media tools (the museum´s basic activities), which are typical for museums, in comparison to other media settings. These activities promote and enhance the museum visitors´ competence and skills to live in a media culture.

With regard to media skills, museums can promote, in particular, the participants´ interactive and social skills and their participation in culture and society. In addition, museums strive to enhance the participants´ critical interpretation skills (skills needed for media reception and selection), which will help museum visitors to build up their own cultural identity.

The level of adapted media education contains examples of measures which aim at meeting the targets described above. The purpose of distinguishing between the two levels is to clarify the status of museums´ media education both for parties within the museum sector and for others, especially within media education.

Of the museum´s basic functions, i.e. of its media tools, the exhibitions and museum education have the closest links to media education. The report shows that the dividing line between museum education and the museum´s media education is vague and often the methods (engaging guides, discussion, workshops) and the mediators or tools (museum educators, guides, workshop instructors, technical tools and applications) are identical. The distinction can be made more defined through creating transparent and clearly documented ways for developing media skills. Through its media education activities, a museum can work to promote one of the following media skills categories: critical interpretation skills, creative and aesthetical media production skills, interactive and participatory skills, and media security skills.

A salient point in the report is the museum employees´ need to improve their media competence. In future, the goal is that all the basic functions of a museum, such as collections and research, could create media education packages for the museum, either independently or together with museum education.

The results of the report confirm that there an interest in media education at the museums. Based on the material studied for the report, approximately 10 per cent of the professionally run museums (i.e. 20-40 museums) already have media education activities or programmes.

This report has been compiled within the Link - making museums into media educators project, coordinated by the Finnish Museums Association. The project is carried out in cooperation with the Association of Cultural Heritage Education in Finland and with the support of an expert network from the fields of media education, museums and education. The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture (2013-2015).

The whole report can be read in Finnish in the link


More information

Pauliina Kinanen

Project Coordinator, Education officer
Phone: +358 040 354 2205
Email: pauliina.kinanen(a)