Three Kinds of Dialogue about Art
*This post is about a note after reading a book, "Three Kinds of Dialogue about Art."
Under the guidance of a facilitator, visitors closely observe the artwork, understand what they have seen based on past knowledge and experience, share impressions and insights, and create meaning for the artwork together.
Gallery Conversation thus invites participants to slow down, take a close look, and explore the work with fresh eyes.
The meaning of the work embodies many theorized notions that the meaning of the work is not a fixed entity to be unearthed, so to speak, but rather something fluid, multi-layered and inexhaustible that continues to form as each new viewer interacts with the work over time.
a. Moreover, the alert and flexible educator will recognize when a shift in the mode of the dialogue is in order. This might be the case if, for example, viewers engaged in a dialogue meant to be predetermined spontaneously offer a series of compelling interpretations about the work’s human significance. Time permitting, the educator could opt to honor the viewers’ interest and facilitate an open inquiry, even while finding ways to convey the concrete understandings she had in mind. The three kinds of dialogue demand that viewers reason and draw conclusions based on evidence. However, reflection on the different sorts of dialogue reminds us that dialogues about artworks can offer museum visitors more than enhanced evidential reasoning. Depending on the approach, the rewards of a dialogue can involve ownership of a concrete understanding; the opportunity to reflect in new ways about an issue that relates to the school curriculum and life; or a space to construct fresh, multidimensional meanings. In the best of cases, the encounter can even be transformative.32 Museum educators aware of the three different kinds of dialogue have the option of adopting the kind—or kinds—that best fit their goals. The selection may vary as circumstances change. In any case, thoughtful decisions in this respect will provide a stronger, more flexible platform for teaching and lead to learning that is richer and more meaningful for museum visitors
Myungja Anna Koh