HUANG Han-yin 黃涵音及 Sarah CAMPBELL
利榮森紀念交流學人及 Victoria and Albert Museum

Experiences at the Learning Department of Victoria and Albert Museum

This presentation shares the experience of a six-month attachment with the Learning Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) during June to November 2013. The Fellow had set out to understand the learning needs of school groups and younger visitors and to explore how museum learning provide resources to children, making the programmes engaging and fun without 'dumbing down' our younger visitors. The main objective of the programme was therefore to develop educational resources with the Schools, Family and Young People team of the Learning Department. The development of resources was carried out with an emphasis on the V&A's permanent Chinese collection and the special exhibition of Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700-1900 and covered different stages of the development from planning, content development to delivery.

The presentation begins with a description of the tasks and activities during the attachment, which included creating a new China Gallery back-pack, developing teachers' resources for the China Gallery and the special exhibition Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700-1900, preparing and delivering the October Half-term programme, and assisting with the planning of the Chinese Festival programme. Illustrated by these tasks, the presentation goes on to discuss how colleagues at the V&A made use of the gallery space, which was seen not only as display space but also as a seminar room, lecture hall, theatre or story-telling stage. It reflects on how the V&A's use of its gallery space offers food for thoughts in terms of encouraging in-gallery learning instead of separating the activities from the displays. Finally, the presentation concludes by pointing out that the key to a successful exchange programme lies in constant communication between fellows and host institutions. It suggests that discussions beforehand help both parties have a clearer picture of the arrangements during the attachment period and, particularly for Fellows, reduce anxiety of settling into a new environment. Equally important is to have regular communication with contact persons at the host institutions in order to reflect on the progress and to ensure necessary adjustments are made.