A PhD researcher has travelled to Boston for an educational exchange through the support of a prestigious fellowship.
Christine Healey, who is completing a PhD in the Media and Communication at RMIT, was one of four women to be awarded the Hugh Rogers Fellowship from the Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association.
The fellowship was set up in 1985 to honour the contribution the association’s co-founder Hugh Rogers had made to these two cities.
The program funds research and projects that build on the cities’ reputation as centres of excellence in arts and culture, education, healthcare and medical research.
Ms Healey spent two weeks at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum working alongside museum educator Michelle Grohe and studying Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) – a teaching methodology that aims to strengthen literacy and critical-thinking skills by engaging with visual art.
"What is exciting about VTS is that it prioritises student voices," Ms Healey said.
"It is based on the shared experience of an artwork which places students at the centre of the learning experience and values what they contribute."
Ms Healey said the fellowship would contribute to her PhD research into the practice and pedagogies of Australian art museum educators.
"My research is unique in that it brings an insider perspective to our understandings of the complex and messy ecology of art museum education," she said.
"I hope my research will contribute towards the future development of museum education and the exciting ways in which the role may assist prospective audiences to experience the art museum in a more meaningful way."
As the education manager at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Ms Healey is responsible for the development of student and teacher programming, online resources, special projects and the education volunteer program.
She is passionate about creating memorable art experiences for young people who would not usually visit museums.
"As a result of the Hugh Rogers Fellowship I hope to work with students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are least likely to visit a museum with their families, because museum visits have the capacity to change students’ lives for the better," she said.
She plans to introduce a similar program to the one she researched in Boston at Heide - making it the first Australian museum to do so.
"I’ve returned to Heide with a rejuvenated energy and passion for the value of art museum visits for school students," she said.
"After completing VTS training on a trip to New York in 2012, it wasn’t until this Boston visit that I could see how it is actually incorporated into museum education practice."