Thinking Museum

In 2013, Claire Bown spent a year developing a new programme at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, using thinking routines from Visible Thinking as a method of engaging and interacting with museum objects. The resulting programme ‘Stories Around the World‘ uses these routines as the structure around which students can explore objects in the museum in a slow, careful and detailed way.

Inspired by this experience, Claire set up her own company, Thinking Museum in 2013. Thinking Museum design and facilitate training courses and workshops  (online and in-person) for museum educators, guides, docents and learning practitioners in all aspects of guided tour techniques. Specialising in training courses and workshops for inquiry-based, interactive, visitor-led engagement techniques, including Claire’s own method of using ‘Visible Thinking in the Museum’.

Claire Bown is originally from the UK and moved to The Netherlands in 2008.

Learning at Thinking Museum

Since starting Thinking Museum, Claire has trained more than 500 people in her method of using Visible Thinking in the Museum. Four elements have been key to the success of this approach and have evolved over the course of the past 7 years:

  • Using thinking routines with open-ended questions.
  • Good facilitation skills.
  • Documenting the process.
  • Encouraging group and collaborative learning.

Thinking Museum teach museum educators, guides and learning practitioners a variety of easy-to-learn, flexible techniques and skills that give them the tools to create visitor-centred experiences that bring art and museum objects to life.

We have witnessed first-hand in many museums how taking on a new dialogue or inquiry-based method of working can be difficult for even the most experienced of museum guides and educators. As a result, we strive to build confidence and expertise through consistent practice, feedback and mindset coaching.

We also believe that every museum educator brings their own experiences with them to their practice. Every educator needs to find their own individual way of working, drawing on a ‘toolbox’ of educational practices, techniques and skills that they can use in their own individual way. Every guide can develop their own personal style given time and patience to coach, train and practice.

One of the main projects I’ve been working on in the past 6 months, is how to translate teaching our interactive courses and workshops to an online environment. We started teaching online masterclasses recently and have just launched our new ‘Visible Thinking in the Museum Online’ course, an 8 module combination of self-directed study and live tutorials with Claire Bown. During lockdown we are also running free weekly live guided art discussions on Zoom using thinking routines and all are welcome to join!

To find out more about Thinking Museum visit their website.