Researchers and experts distinguished by their work and specialised knowledge in the fields of education, outreach, museums, and schools were regularly involved in the work of this initiative. They helped to expand the scope of lab.Bode by offering external perspectives, providing fresh ideas and cultivating a reflected practice. Over the course of the programme, the pool of Critical Friends was broadened to include perspectives that span all topics relevant to the initiative.
In the beginning, lab.Bode focused on three core themes:
A. Museum Education as a Critique of Power and Discrimination
Critical Friend: Carmen Mörsch, Professor of art didactics for the teaching profession at the Kunsthochschule Mainz. Diversity and a critique of discrimination are central to her practice, teachings, and research. She is currently working on a handbook dealing with this topic.
For lab.Bode, Mörsch supported the project team in developing an art education practice that took a critical stance towards power structures and discrimination. Questions and problems that arose were examined and discussed jointly by the team in regular consultations. The aim was also to support the development and realisation of training opportunities for freelance educators, teachers at partner schools and the lab.Bode team. In the spring of 2018, a two-part awareness training was offered to staff members and freelancers of lab.Bode (research assistants, workshop leaders and student assistants) to sensitise them to positions that critically examine discrimination and racism at the interface of art and education.
B. Collaborative Youth Outreach
Critical Friend: Tanja Ries, coordinator and project director of STREET COLLEGE, a platform for self-determined and individualised learning aims at Gangway e.V. She recently submitted her master’s thesis on the topic of “Haltung” (attitude) in cultural education.
The question of how museums are relevant to children and youth is directly related to a given institution’s attitude towards these young museumgoers. They have to be taken seriously and understood as a unique group of stakeholders within the museum. In a workshop, the lab.Bode team of research assistants presented an “attitude paper” together with Ries. This included attitudes and positions that underlie lab.Bode’s education practice. In addition, they developed feedback methods for students whose perspectives thereby became a key component of the project’s reflections and documentation.
C. Inreach: Processes of Internal Change
Critical Friend: Christine Gerbich. As part of her research project “Museum as Experimental Field” Christine Gerbich gained intensive experience with inreach processes. She is currently working on the research project “Making Differences in Berlin: Transforming Museums and Heritage in the Twenty-first Century.”
If a museum wishes to be a relevant place for children and youth, it has to undergo an internal, structural and conceptual process of change. Exploring this change has been part of lab.Bode’s work from the very beginning, and this had to be differentiated from outreach processes that left internal institutional structures untouched. In regular meetings with Gerbich, participants considered the questions and challenges that institutional structures presented to the work of lab.Bode. Workshops were conducted with the Bode-Museum team (curators, restorers, guards) and were aimed at facilitating communication between various areas of responsibility within the museum.