Sample from Chapter 7

Asking Questions:  Observation-Based Touring

“Whether you are a docent in an art museum or science museum, a botanical garden or historical site, conducting a successful tour is an art. It is not important how many objects visitors look at or how much information you provide – the importance lies in their developing observation, thinking and communication skills, and finding personally meaningful connection. In order to successfully guide visitors into developing these skills, you should master a series of questioning strategies that focus their attention on objects, involve them in creative and critical thinking, lead them to personal discoveries and challenge them to develop ideas and examine responses.”

Suggestions for Open-Ended Questions

“At its most successful, this method demands answers that are subject to interpretation, discussion, explanation and evaluation.

Observation and interpretation

How would you describe this object (place, picture) to someone who has never seen it?

* How do you think this object was used?

* What is surprising or new to you? Why?


How are these objects (figures, animals, plants) alike?

* How are they different?


If you were in this diorama (picture room), what problems might you face?

* What other . . . ? or How else . . . ?

Further development of the chapter topic includes sections on Close-Ended versus Open-Ended Questions; Suggestions for Response Techniques; and Observation-Based Touring (with separate sections relating to Art, History, and National Science museums).

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