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Staying essential

Author(s): Helen Chatterjee

Journal: University Museums and Collections Journal
ISSN 2071-7229

Volume: 1;
Start page: 37;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: University | Object Based Learning | Hospital

University Museums are outstanding resources and afford a unique opportunity for effective object based learning, the dissemination of subject specific, observational, practical and other transferable skills. Further, they represent sources of inspiration, enjoyment and could play a potentially important role in health, wellbeing and therapy. Critically, therefore, we need to understand the role and value of object handling for learning, knowledge transfer, emotions, wellbeing and health. This paper reports on the outcome of a series of recent workshops, organised by UCL Museums & Collections, examining the value of touch and object handling. These workshops brought together museum practitioners, researchers and clinicians who are engaged in exploring the value of object handling, touch and sensation and in measuring the impact object handling might have for a variety of emotions, in therapy, general wellbeing and in enhancing knowledge acquisition. The role of object handling in a variety of contexts was explored, such as the use of handling collections in outreach and for inspiration. Other workshops explored the psychology behind touch, the underlying mechanisms behind physical stimulation and its link with emotions experienced during object handling. The paper will also explore a range of practical and strategic initiatives employed at UCL Museums & Collections to understand the value of object based learning. Numbering nearly 1 million objects UCL Museums & Collections are used widely across the university in subject specific teaching, knowledge transfer and in the acquisition of key and transferable skills. Innovative uses include the assessment of the value of object handling as an enrichment activity in hospitals by medical students. The case study discussed explains the valuable role university museums can play in research-led teaching.
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