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How to talk about climate activist protests in art museums
Episode 733rd November 2022 • The Art Engager • Claire Bown
00:00:00 00:18:19

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Today’s episode follows on from a popular post I wrote on social media recently about how to talk about the recent climate activist protests in art museums with your participants.  I wanted to take the opportunity to explore the subject in a bit more detail here. 

Art has been hitting the headlines recently with numerous climate activist protests targeting famous paintings in museums - from Van Gogh’s 'Sunflowers' in the National Gallery in London, to Monet’s 'Grainstacks' in Potsdam and Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

Now, whatever your views about these attacks - and I’m acknowledging here that there are very passionate views on all sides - as educators, how we respond is equally important. 

Whether you’re working with groups in the museum or with students in a classroom, people will mention recent events and will want to talk about it. They may even ask you for your opinions

So, in today's episode we'll explore how these events are an opportunity to engage in perspective-taking and discussion with visitors, rather than voicing our own opinions.

It means listening to a range of perspectives and keeping an open mind, creating discussion with visitors and inviting them to explore and even understand the different perspectives involved. 

But, importantly, you have to feel comfortable creating conversations about contentious issues such as these and know that you will be able to facilitate objectively. 

So, first I’ll talk about the kinds of discussions you could facilitate around this subject and will share a range of thinking routines and questions that you can use to create conversations.

And secondly, I’ll take you through a super-useful exercise that will help you to get to know yourself and your feelings better - this is an exercise that will ultimately help you to facilitate subjects around all kinds of sensitive and contentious topics.

There are lots of resources associated with today's episode too, including a free PDF summary sheet - and I've shared all the helpful links below.


Download the summary sheet of today's episode - Resources for talking about contentious issues (free PDF)

6 thinking routines for perspective-taking (free PDF)

Episode 11 Step Inside: Thinking Routines to Foster Perspective-Taking

Episode 43 Tips for facilitating meaningful discussions around sensitive subjects

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