My name is Marilyn Casey and for the past four years I have worked in the field of art museum education. I have always thought my path to museum education was more untraditional than others. I came to art museum education from a traditional Visual Art Education Undergraduate program at the State University of New York at New Paltz and from working in more traditional art education settings – elementary and high school classrooms, after school art programs, and in ceramic studios.
I started as a volunteer teaching artist in the museum where I work today. I looked around at my colleagues at the time, most of whom had degrees in Museum Education. I quickly became involved with NYCMER– New York City Museum Educator Roundtable, and again I observed many museum educator professionals who had degrees or were pursuing degrees in Museum Education. I began to assume this was the norm in the field.
The more educators I met and the more institutions I became involved with, the more I came to see that my colleagues in art museum education came from a larger variety of educational backgrounds than I had originally assumed. Though there seems to be large number of museum educators with museum education backgrounds here in New York City, there are actually only a few graduate schools in the U.S. where you can get a degree in museum education.
So how do art museum educators become art museum educators? What, in their background both educational or professionally, qualifies them to become an art museum educator? What do the educators view as their most valuable qualifications and experiences in light of the fact that there is no educational program either statewide or nationally that standardizes the practice and teaching of museum education? So far my research I have found one set of guidelines for best practices put out by the American Association of Museums.
Through the questioning of the field I work in and a critical look at the growing and developing field of art museum educators- I arrived at questions that are central to my research:
What experiences both educational and professional do art museum educators view as most important to their work and inherent value?
What experiences both educational and professional do art museums value or look for when hiring an art museum educator?