Opening of lab.Bode – the learning laboratory for education and learning at the Bode-Museum

29.09.2017
Bode-Museum

The Bode-Museum on the Museumsinsel Berlin will serve as a testing ground for museum education and outreach work until the end of 2020. The learning laboratory ‘lab.Bode’ was officially launched on Thursday evening by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Staatliche Museen, along with the directors and staff from their partner museums located throughout Germany.

The learning laboratory and the nationwide trainee programme in 21 museums around Germany, part of the ‘lab.Bode: Programme to Strengthen Educational Activities in Museums’, will showcase the exemplary characteristics of outreach work and the positive impact that it can have.

As part of the model project, the experimental architect collective raumlabor-berlin developed concepts for three galleries in the Bode-Museum. Named the ‘development room’, ‘think room’, and ‘platform’, they now serve lab.Bode as visible spaces for initiating ideas, working, and for presentations. Various participants will use them in the future, including the programme’s nine Berlin partner schools. In addition, museum visitors can access them in order to find out more about lab.Bode, learning, and leave behind comments about the project and the museum collection.

The initiative lab.Bode will also support a diverse programme of 21 academic internships (so-called Volontariate) in the field of museum outreach until 2020. Art museums nationwide were eligible to apply to demonstrate the importance of outreach work in their institutions, and to create – for the first time – an academic internship, or Volontariat post, in the field of museum education. (In Germany, the Volontariat is a two-year traineeship programme, equivalent to civil-service entry training, for people embarking on careers in museums within the public sector.) The activities of the internship programme will be closely connected to those of the learning laboratory. The interns will participate in a comprehensive training programme that was devised in cooperation with the Deutscher Museumsbund and the Bundesakademie für Kulturelle Bildung in Wolfenbüttel. In addition, they will periodically assist with educational projects for schoolkids at the Bode-Museum. By collaborating with the Bode-Museum’s curatorial project teams, participants will gain experience working in interdisciplinary teams and develop a professional network in the process.

The public discussion forum at the Bode-Museum – designed with both a professional audience and an engaged public in mind – is a platform for discussing the latest approaches, theories, and points of view on educational outreach in museums. ‘Critical Friends’ – scholars and experts on a range of subjects in the field of education, community engagement, museums, and schools – will regularly be invited to participate. Their outside perspectives will enhance the work of lab.Bode, giving momentum to the programme and helping to foster a reflective practice. All of the methods, concepts, and projects developed as part of the lab.Bode programme will be systematized and made available to interested museums and cultural educators in the future.

In a statement, Julien Chapuis, director of the Bode-Museum, said: ‘We are very happy to have paved the way for the lab.Bode initiative. The objects in the Bode-Museum encompass and convey the full spectrum of human experience, from hope and fear to aspiration and desire. The museum collection is therefore an outstanding jumping-off point for reflections, discussions, interventions, and events organized around topics that are highly relevant not only for adults, but especially for the children and teens who will help to organize them.’

Hortensia Völckers, member of the executive board and artistic director of the Federal Cultural Foundation, announced: ‘We urgently need innovators – museums that place great importance on community engagement – to set an example in theory and in practice, in terms of space and personnel. Lab.Bode could serve as such a role model – and we have certainly created the conditions for it to do so. In the coming years, we will provide a total of €5.6 million to lab.Bode. The enormous number of applications that we received from museums across Germany for the nationwide internship programme shows that the interest is there. Expectations are high on all sides; starting today, they will be steadily met with joint forces.’

Heike Kropff, department head of education and communication at the Staatliche Museen, said: ‘Lab.Bode will serve as a driving force for all of the Staatliche Museen’s education and outreach efforts. As part of the initiative, we are also creating innovative room designs that meet the needs of our visitors. These designs could potentially be realized not only by the Bode-Museum itself, but by other museums, as well. The experience gained by cooperating with partner schools will be systematized and used to help establish school partnerships throughout the entire museum association. We are very fortunate to be able to discuss current issues in museum education and outreach with experts from around the world. I truly hope that the staff of all the museums involved will be inspired by lab.Bode’s momentum.’

For more information on ‘lab.Bode: Initiative to Strengthen Educational Activities in Museums’ visit www.lab-bode.de.