Learning At The Museum: Themes In Cultural Comprehension Through Exhibitions

Chapter 2: Learning at the Museum – Part 1

Victoria Albert Museum: Art and Fashion represented through diverse media

The Victoria and Albert Museum is located in the United Kingdom. This museum is considered one of the greatest museums of Art and design in the world. The past exhibitions reflect themes from varying genres and time periods that are carefully encapsulated into meaningful and well-presented artifacts. It provides exhibitions and a variety of resources for education, shopping and interaction. As listed, there are a number of activities clearly advertised prior in accordance to their appearance in the gallery. Future exhibits are listed on the site as well including Alexander McQueen’s ‘Savage Beauty’ and other eastern titles. Current exhibits include ‘Disobedient Objects’ and ‘Wedding Dresses from 1775 to 2014’.

The disobedient objects exhibit will be placed in the museum from the middle of July 20, 2014 through 1 February 2015. This exhibition focuses on the late 1970s and illustrates how political activism has been a reservoir for creative and ingenuous designs. These unique implementations are adverse to traditional standards of art and have demonstrated themselves as unique and notable artifacts. On display are art forms during various periods of rebellion throughout the world that illustrate the process of grassroots movements for social change. Some examples of the items that are found here include finely woven banners, barricades, political videogames and defaced currency or other government objects. Each item it represents a different culture and a unique perspective on defining art. The theme however resonates with an act of rebellion and counterintuitive design that is not necessarily understood outside of the context that is presented. This collapsible cube posted in figure 1 demonstrated a general strike in Britain and illustrates the diverse nature of displays present within the exhibit:

What makes this exhibition interesting is the prevalence of disobedience that can be demonstrated throughout the world cultures. The exhibit opens viewers’ eyes to a whole subculture that is based on differences in how objects are made as well as what they represent. Users can find how to guides to make their own versions of several important items throughout the gallery.

Prior to visiting, the teacher’s resource guide indicates that it is important to think about campaigns that have been seen in the media. The guide asks readers to understand how the message of each campaign is portrayed as well as what types of objects were used to do so. Civil liberties such as the freedom of speech, right education or the right to vote are discussed and should be continually examine prior to attending this exhibition. One example that is given is of feminist organizations or ‘guerrilla girls’ using masks and posters drawn with shocking to defiance of sexism. Slogans, objects and colors are used for understanding tension and rebellion on a national and international level. These themes are shown throughout the exhibit.

Just as the objects and slogans can unify a campaign, it is important to understand how these aspects can be used for grassroots movements all throughout the world. Follow-up activities after visiting the museum include introducing the idea of a utopia and creating campaigns to highlight issues that have been depicted in the gallery. This makes it really possible to interact with the content and ideas presented in each display. A how to guide about re-creating certain disobedient objects or to find out more information through the gallery's website can make a good take away and utilizes concepts learned throughout the exhibit.

These prequalifying and follow-up activities show the importance of the content being depicted in each exhibit. Not only is it important for viewers to understand the role and context of rebellion throughout history, but also to see how the cultural similarities are continuous regardless of the location of each object. Throughout history there has been defense of civil rights and mitigation of risk from government threats that have created meaningful and highly fueled campaigns. In understanding how to use these messages in terms of their thematic similarities, the exhibit encourages users to learn about a variety of historical concepts in terms of their practical and real world applications.

The other exhibit presently open involves wedding dresses from the late 1700s to 2014. The exhibit traces developments in the fashion industry by notable fashion designers Charles Frederick Ward, Norman Hartnell, Vivian Westwood and Vera Wang. An illustration of the past two centuries the fashion District how romantic, extravagant good and glamorous stress can be as well as their transitions in style. Not only does the exhibit demonstrate the history of the stresses but also shows that the lives of people wearing them were often presenting intimate stories and circumstances. The museum's website presents an organized view about the exhibit as well as pictures illustrating significant wedding dresses from their collection. Videos and complementary Blog posts also demonstrate the candor with which this topic is explored throughout the Western tradition.

With artifacts from all over the world, wedding dresses are illustrated in a historical, cultural, and societal way that leaves far more of an impression then a study of its fashion alone.

Each month the museum provides a new blog post published about a topic, complementary to the exhibit. In January’s post an18th-century bridal dress was demonstrated in terms of it's appearance and uses in aristocracy for court appearances. The post further explains a historical perspective about the dress that is featured in the exhibit.

The Victoria and Albert exhibition represents this with great prestige and with highly graphic information available online. The Pinterest board displayed here shows an important interactive effort that may drive traffic to the exhibit, if not at least spark the curiosity of any onlooker. This is useful way that social media has been incorporated for the overall beneficence of societal progress and interaction with historical concepts. By engaging in the community in this way there are useful elements towards creating value amongst society prior to visiting.

What makes this exhibit unique and characteristic of a viable learning experience is that it provides historical and cultural background to the well-known artifacts described and pictured. Not only are the works of fashion designers honored through this exhibit, it's also possible for viewers of all interest in all disciplines to identify to some degree with the stories behind these creations. It is hugely beneficial to the expression of elements throughout this display that the museum experience will leave within an educational or intellectual pursuing individual. As this is the purpose of academic standards and visits from schools this quality generates value and interest.

The exhibit feature meaningful works of art through the form of wedding dresses in white and demonstrates how unique perspectives from different cultures impacted the way the fashions trended over the past two centuries. By implementing useful follow-up activities and preemptive informational activities, it is possible for viewers of all age groups and diet and demographics to understand the basic ideas behind wedding dress fashion design and design of aristocratic novelties in general. The use of informative paneling as well as the colorful displays in a streamlined order makes walking through this exhibit a truly experiential walk through history.