Education in the Neoliberal Museum: a critique of Tate Liverpool’s educational practices

McKane, Antoinette (2014) Education in the Neoliberal Museum: a critique of Tate Liverpool’s educational practices. In: Capitalism in the Classroom: Neoliberalism, Education and Progressive Alternatives, 4 April 2014, Ryerson University, Toronto. (Unpublished)

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From the Louvre to the Guggenheim, a feature that now unites the world’s most prominent art museums is the
establishment of additional branches in which to display their ever-increasing collections. Arguably, these ventures signal the marketization of the art museum which, like any corporation, expands to increase its global market share. This paper addresses the question of how the museum’s educational role has been affected by processes of marketization, with particular emphasis on the relationship between museum expansion and neoliberal urban change. The paper focuses on the case of Tate Liverpool, the first of three expansions to Britain’s original Tate Gallery in recent decades. Tate Liverpool was founded amid a period of tumultuous urban change resulting from the decline in Liverpool’s port and associated industries in the 1980s. As a key component in the flagship Albert Dock development, the new museum formed part of the Thatcher government’s plans to ‘regenerate’ Liverpool. From the outset, these
plans were heavily criticised for failing to address the problems of poor housing and chronic unemployment that
beset the city. Consequently, Tate Liverpool faced notable hostility from local people on opening in 1988. Partly in response to this hostility, Tate Liverpool embarked on a new form of educational programme. Characterised by a significant strand of outreach activity and underpinned by a constructivist learning methodology, the programme aimed to promote the benefits of the new museum to local people and to move away from traditional modes of museum education that had been proven to privilege a wealthy, educated elite.
This paper critically examines these developments in the context of the marketization of the art museum, drawing in particular on Jacques Rancière’s theories on education and emancipation to offer a critique of Tate Liverpool’s
educational methodology and the practice of classifying the public according to learner categories.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Fine and Applied Art (up to 30th April 2018)
Depositing User: Antoinette McKane
Date Deposited: 03 May 2016 14:27
Last Modified: 03 May 2016 14:27

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