From 2016 to 2021, the Bode-Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island was serving as an experimental space. A museum education laboratory inside the Bode-Museum, a national training programme at twenty-three museums, and accompanying public discussion programmes all served to demonstrate the potentials of education work in museums and its achievements. lab.Bode – Initiative to Strengthen Museum Education was a joint programme of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
lab.Bode worked closely with nine partner schools from different parts of Berlin. Together with pupils and teachers, lab.Bode was developing and testing different approaches to museum education over a period of five years. In the museum, the initiative was researching, trying out, questioning, and commenting on these methods in cooperation with educators, artists, and experts. Since the summer of 2018 all Berlin schools had been welcome to take part in free project days in the education laboratory as well.
Education Spaces in the Bode-Museum
From 2016 to 2021, the museum had undergone noticeable changes. Four exhibition halls within the collection presentation were transformed into education spaces by raumlabor berlin. The designated “Denkraum” (Space for Ideas), “Freiraum” (Free Space), and “Plattform” (Platform) were used by the various lab.Bode stakeholders. The laboratory spaces were open to all visitors, who were invited to inform themselves, ask questions, leave comments, do research on topics surrounding the education programmes or the collection, discuss, reflect, and relax.
National Academic Trainee Programme
Through 2020, lab.Bode was supporting twenty-three research traineeships in the field of education and outreach. The trainees work at the twenty-three partner museums, took part in a training programme developed by lab.Bode, observed school workshops at the Bode-Museum, and then subsequently carried out their own school projects at their respective institutions. The aim of the training programme was to enhance the position and value of museum education, professionalise the field, and create specialized networks.
lab.Bode invited education and outreach experts, museum specialists and staff, artists, school directors, teachers, university students, museum visitors, and the interested public to take part in regular, free discussion events. Here, current approaches, theories, and perspectives were explored in a professional dialogue. Speakers from the field of museum work, research, and (cultural) education offered new sources of inspiration and discussed their different approaches with the audience in talks as well as workshops.
Throughout 2021, the projects, concepts, and methods developed by lab.Bode were compiled in a digital toolbox system, the lab.Bode pool, which can be accessed and used by stakeholders in cultural education at any time and free of charge.
The lab.Bode team worked together with staff members of the Bode-Museum, the Education, Outreach, and Visitor Services Department of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, as well as experts in the field, and other museums to carry out the programme. Important partners for the initiative also included the Bundesakademie für Kulturelle Bildung Wolfenbüttel, the German Museums Association, and the Berliner Senate Department for Education, Youth, and Family.