The ignorant art museum: Beyond meaning-making

Emilie Sitzia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Web of Science)


In the wake of new museology and constructivist learning theories, the traditional unidirectional educational role of the museum has been contested and challenged. Museums have the potential to be progressive pedagogical sites and are an ideal terrain to explore educational theories and attitudes. Jacques Ranciere, in his seminal book The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1987), proposed a different view of what education should look like. This article explores what an 'ignorant art museum' practice can look like beyond meaning-making, through analysis of key actions, such as observing, repeating, failing, trying and verifying. Theorising on literature (philosophy and educational theory) and taking international examples, it will explore the benefits and issues created by such practices. What are the tensions between the museum as the site of the expert and the space of the public? What can a new form of museum expertise look like? How can technology contribute to the development of the 'ignorant museum'? What knowledge can be created in an 'ignorant museum' environment and how can this knowledge be displayed in the framework of the museum? By attempting to resolve these questions, this paper aims to look into the 'ignorant museum' as a strategy for change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-87
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Ranciere
  • art museum
  • ignorant museum
  • learning
  • knowledge production

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