Museum education activities are the tasks museum education officers perform in creating awareness of museum to the public, bridging the gap between the museum and the visitors using the gallery exhibition to see how museums can be centres of attraction, dissemination of knowledge and an engine of economic growth, and make them centres for socioeconomic development by attracting tourists and researchers. Museum Education Officer is what the French called an animateur, stimulating and arousing the interest of the visitors.
Education in the museum is a lifelong, active, lively, participative and innovative venture. Its nature is influenced by many factors. Firstly, the resources of any museum largely vary and are unique. Secondly, a vast range of people are included as audiences and thirdly, the method used to impact educational experiences include exhibitions drama, object handling, sessions, demonstrations lectures, talk, etc. Each museum provides a particular mix of all these factors to form a whole package of Museum Education Services. Ezeokeke (2008)
The education department is the publicity arm of the museum. It is also the enlightenment arms as well as the organ of information, education and the sensitization and awareness of the museum activities. Museum education draws people into the museum and advertises the museum through various programmes. It creates awareness for the protection, preservation and development of our cultural heritage. Museum education officers, through their outreach programmes, highlight the various activities in the museum to the wider public for people to be culture heritage friendly.
Museum education activities or programmes could be categorized into two: (1) Museum Education Internal Programme
(2)Museum Education Out-reach Programme
Museum Education Internal Programmes are conducting visitors round and explaining the various exhibitions within the museum galleries, cultural sites or monument. Museum Education Officers monitor the reactions of visitors through Museum Audience Research. The analysis of this research helps to enrich the exhibitions and attract audience attention better.
Museum in-house activities such as holiday programme, monthly programmes like Saturday Art Club and skill acquisition tie dye, bead and soap making. The Museum Education Officers engage the audience in various activities that could generate interest in cultural art and crafts which will promote some relevant cultural skills that may be lost forever if not rejuvenated. Public lectures within the museum premises on importance of our cultural heritage. Cultural displays like cultural dance, music, fashion parade, traditional cooking competitions. All these activities by Museum Education Officers promote audience development.
Museum Education Out-reach programmes involve school out-reach programme by teaching related cultural activities under the school syllabus. Sensitizing the pupils and students of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to the activities of the museum and the importance of cultural heritage. Setting up of museum/cultural heritage club in schools. Museum Education Officers also encourage students to engage in cultural excursions to cultural sites and monuments. Museum Education Officers sensitize the community, especially as it affects our cherished cultural artifacts that are being stolen and destroyed due to ignorance and art treasure looters who pilfer these art treasures. Collaboration with universities for conferences/workshop. The activities of the museum and the importance could be given some publicity through the print and electronic media. Mobile museum out-reach which involves mounting temporary exhibition that could be moved from place to place for various groups to see.
Museums are institutions with a general mission to preserve, and increase the value of their material assets (the piece of arts, their buildings etc) and the immaterial ones (knowledge resources and competences), making it available for the community as a way to foster its cultural and social development. Ballantyne et al. 2011.
Museum audience development can also be better enhanced using what the SAAM, Smithsonian American Art Museum (2012) called ‘The Art of Video Game’ which is edutainment perspective.
The relationship between the world of gaming and the museum has still to be explored, despite the use of entertainment dimension is very present in the traditional services of these institutions’ didactic sections. These sections, over the years, have developed many activities for younger visitors, structuring informal learning contexts—from drawing workshops to treasure hunts—in which the game is a key element of education process. The gaming industry is, internationally, a reality of extraordinary interest, primarily because of its size: as recently observed.
Only in forty years after their birth, video-games have become one of the main creative and entertainment industries in the world. It is no wonder if this industry sales projection tops $100 billion in 2017, as its business volume has been bigger than cinema, music, and books for several years. A recent report on cultural and creativity industries in England shows how the sector “IT, software and games” have generated in 2014 an overall economic growth bigger than “film, television, music, publishing, design, fashion and architecture” put together. Viola (2016)
The gaming industry is therefore a hugely important industry worldwide, able to produce wealth, generate economic value improve museum’s audience, both in presence (visitors) and through digital media (internet users), have to be developed over time, not only strengthening its relationship with existing audiences, but also experimenting new ways to create relationship with the potential ones, using an audience development perspective. With this Art of Video-Game which is edutainment perspective, an informal learning context in which game is a key element of the education process in view Nok, Ife, Benin Tada cultures could be well appreciated. Some of these masterpieces dated 500BC their medium of expression, features, and aesthetics can be better showcased to the world. Deities like Ogun, Sango, Oya, Esu and their activities can be put into video-games, while legendaries, kings and queens like Ewuare The great, El-Kanem of Borno, King Jaja of Opobo and Queen Amina of Zaria’s power, reign and influences can be video-gamed.
To enhance museum audience development, national museums could keep along with the Joneses by exploring “The Art of Video Game” an innovative created in 2012 by the SAAM, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, also used by British Museum, and the National Archaeological Museum, Naples. It was used to improve museum’s audiences both in presence (visitors) and through digital media (internet users). These video games will enhance audience development and make museums centres of attraction, dissemination of knowledge, entertainment and an engine of economic growth.
Likinyo Oluwole Bismarckworks with National Museum Education Department.