field, ‘amateurs’ in the museum profession and that their activities are more based on experience and common sense than on specific theories that have their basis in the museum practice. For this reason every attempt to provide the museum field with a theoretical basis has to be heartily welcomed.
When in 1996 the Victoria & Albert Museum decided to subject the creation of its British Galleries to a whole new process of inclusion of all kind of specialist input, it was a revelation to the museum world, made even more stronger by the result itself.
One of the theories this new permanent exhibition is based on, is that of the learning theories, the idea that visitors have different learning styles and that the way they visit a museum is closely related to that learning style. By providing the visitors with exhibits that appeal to their own learning style a museum is made attractive to a broader audience.
Inspired by the developments in the V&A the Netherlands Museums Association started in 2003 a project called The Kolb learning theory in the museum. David A. Kolb is an American social-psychologist who published in 1984 Experiential Learning, a theory which is still internationally popular in didactic and training circles. The study deals with the process of learning as a lifelong phenomenon and the four different learning styles each person develops during this process. Aim of the project undertaken by the Museum Association was to research the possibilities of adapting the Kolb theory to the museum practice. Through several pilot projects in museums, visitors surveys and a ‘translation’ of the Kolb learning theory to a museum version it was possible to present in 2005 the publication De leertheorie van Kolb in het museum.
The publication not only describes the original Kolb Learning Theory, it also presents ways to provide the four types of learning styles – Dreamer, Deliberator, Decider, Doer - with appropriate approaches. The result is richer exhibitions that appeal to a broader public.
The publication has proved its use for the museum field through study days and courses in the Netherlands, through application in several museum exhibitions in the Netherlands and it has won international acclaim through the European Lifelong Learning in Museums project."