Trips to museums are often as exciting as they are informative, with the new exhibits and featured artists on display making each visit unique. Most museums today offer self-guided tours that allow visitors to view artwork at their own pace. But does everyone really understand what’s in front of their eyes?

While everyone gets a unique experience from art, keying into its history can make it that much deeper. To make the gallery experience more meaningful, museums have to bridge this gap of understanding. Since it’s safe to assume that not everyone will have a background in art history, it’s important to find effective ways to make art both appealing and accessible to any museum-goer. Museum education isn’t just a matter of installing a painting on a wall, but setting up learning environments that speak to the various audiences that pass through their halls: whether they’re families, college students, or well-versed art historians.

To explore this idea, Contemporary Museum Education instructor Amir Parsa speaks to Heather Maxson, Director of School, Youth, and Family Programs at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art. They discuss the role of formal education programs in teaching the public about the arts, and how programming creates more active museum engagement.

View the full interview below.

This video comes from Contemporary Museum Education, a course which provides a theoretical and practical understanding of the growing field.

Contemporary Museum Education