Main Menu

Symposium on Family Learning, Inclusion and the Value of Play in Museums

Symposium

Join a world-renowned slate of experts in areas such as early learning, museology, the importance of play, and more!

December 4 and 5, 2019

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 — 1–7 p.m. (registration opens at 11 a.m.)
Thursday, December 5 — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Canadian Children’s Museum, Canadian Museum of History Theatre

Members of Ontario Museum Association (OMA), Société des Musées du Québec (SMQ) or Canadian Museum of History (CMH): $220; Non-Members: $250

Registration Information

Join renowned experts in fields including museology, exhibition design, childhood and family learning, as we explore the visitor experience for today’s children and their families. Featuring speakers from North America, Europe and Australia, the Symposium on Family Learning, Inclusion and the Value of Play in Museums examines topics such as the art of play, creative learning, the 21st-century family and much more. Providing a wealth of information and insight from around the world, the Symposium will offer much food for thought, while also including ample opportunities for networking and the sharing of best practices.

Key speakers include Dr. Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn; Nora Spinks, Vanier Institute of the Family; Patrice Aubertin, National Circus School; Paul Bowers, Australian Centre for the Moving Image; and Jörg Ehtreibler, FRida & freD (Austria). Also on hand will be representatives from Cité des enfants (Paris), Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Toboggan Design (Montreal), Musée de la civilisation (Québec City) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Professionals from regional, national, and international museums, as well as anyone with an interest in family learning, play, inclusivity, and accessibility won’t want to miss this bilingual symposium, organized by the Canadian Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of History.

This event will also showcase research and other initiatives related to Symposium themes with a display of posters produced by college and university students in museology, early learning, the art of play and similar fields. Click here for more information or to apply.

Embassy of France in Canada logo

With the support of the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in Canada.

Special thanks to the Ontario Museum Association and the Société des Musées du Québec for their support.

Big Ideas at the Museum

Registration Fees

Registration includes two days of symposium sessions; mini-continental breakfast (Thursday), refreshment breaks, admission to the Museum, and the reception in the Canadian Children’s Museum (Wednesday).

Fees are indicated below, exclusive of applicable taxes.

Buy Tickets
  • Members (CMH, OMA, SMQ): $220
  • Non-Members: $250
  • Note: Proof of eligibility for the discounted rate may be requested.

Registration for the symposium is available online, (toll free) 1-800-555-5621, (TTY for people with hearing disabilities) 819-776-7003 or onsite at the Museum’s Box Office.

Preliminary Program

At the time of this writing, the following speakers are either confirmed or pending. As details are firmed up, the names will be updated.

All sessions will be in either English or French, with simultaneous translation.

Day 1: Wednesday, December 4

Canadian Museum of History Theatre and Theatre Lobby

1 to 7 p.m.
Registration (11 a.m.–1 p.m.)
Welcome
Big Ideas Sessions
Student Poster Sessions
Refreshment Break
Reception in the Canadian Children’s Museum
11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Registration — Theatre Lobby
1 p.m.
Welcome to the Canadian Children’s Museum (CCM) and the Canadian Museum of History
1:10 p.m.
Big Ideas: Families of Today and the Future
Family expert Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family, discusses modern families: what they look like, what they expect, and why museums should care. This presentation includes a moderated discussion and participant Q&As.
2:10 p.m.
Refreshment Break
Student Poster Sessions — Theatre Lobby
2:30 p.m.
Big Ideas: Children of Today and the Future — the Lost Art of Play?

Play experts unpack the science of play, why it is important for children’s development, and whether or not it has really been lost. The session includes a moderated discussion on what this can mean for museums.

“What Exactly is Play, and Why Is It Such a Powerful Vehicle for Learning?”, Dr. Peter Gray, Boston College

“Circus Arts as a Means of Increasing Play Through Physical Literacy, Creativity and Resilience in Canadian Youth,” Patrice Aubertin, Director, Centre for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer in Circus Arts, National Circus School, Montreal.

Moderated Q&As
4:00 p.m.
Student Poster Sessions — Theatre Lobby
Visit the Canadian Museum of History
5:00–7:00 p.m.
Drinks Reception in the Canadian Children’s Museum
Meet the CCM Renewal Project Team, and enjoy a sneak peek at renewal plans.

Day 2: Thursday, December 5

Canadian Museum of History Theatre and Theatre Lobby
8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Welcome
Big Ideas and Big Ideas in Action Sessions
Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Student Poster Sessions
Wrap-Up
8 a.m.
Morning Coffee and Networking — Theatre Lobby
8:45 a.m.
Day 2 Welcome
9:00 a.m.
Big Ideas: What Makes Playful Exhibition Experiences?
Paul Bowers, Renewal lead for the Melbourne Museum’s Pauline Gandel Children’s Museum and Director, Exhibitions, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne
9:40 a.m.
Big Ideas in Action: The Playful Museum of the Future: The Visitor Experience and Physical Design
Jörg Ehtreiber, Director, FRida & freD, Kindermuseum, Graz, Austria and President of Hands On! International Association of Children in Museums, Europe
Alisson Boiffard, Museographer, Cité des enfants, Universcience, Paris
Marie-Christine Bédard, Chargée de projet d’exposition, Musée de la civilisation, Québec City
Moderated Q&As
11:00 a.m.
Health break
Student Poster Sessions — Theatre Lobby
11:20 a.m.
Laurent Carrier, Experience and Exhibition Designer, Co-Founder of Toboggan Design, Montreal
Jason Nolan, Associate Professor, Early Childhood Studies and Director of the Responsive Ecologies Lab (RE/Lab), Ryerson University, Toronto
Moderated Q&As
12:30 p.m.
Lunch (on your own) Student Poster Sessions
1:30 p.m.
Big Ideas in Action: Family Learning, and Inclusion
“What Families are Telling Us,” Jennifer Elliott, Director of Public Research and Evaluation, Canadian Museum of History
“How Objects Are Used to Support Family Learning,” Susan Foutz, Director of Research and Evaluation, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Moderated Q&As
2:30 p.m. Refreshment break
2:45 p.m.
“Family Learning and Diverse Abilities,” Kerry McMaster, Scenographer, Canadian Museum of History and Kara Lee, Occupational Therapist
“Learning as Family – Health and Wellness,” Thomas Bastien, Director of Education and Wellness, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Moderated Q&As
3:45–4:00 p.m.
Closing Remarks

Note: Conference speakers and schedule are subject to change without notice.

About the Symposium

Why this Symposium, and Why Now?

As the availability of technology increases in the homes and hands of children, families are becoming more vocal about the types of experiences they want museums to provide. At the same time, as museums strive to be more inclusive and diverse, young visitors have emerged as a key audience with whom to engage.

Children who enjoy compelling museum experiences at an early age are more likely to see museums as valuable sources of learning as they grow. In addition, research continues to reinforce the importance of formative experiences during a child’s early years, when cognitive, social, and physical skills begin to develop.

Museums can be ideal venues for children to acquire and hone these skills, through immersive experiences that reinforce the connection between knowledge and play, while accommodating the many different ways in which children navigate their world. In addition, making children and their families feel welcome and engaged can also transform museums themselves, by making them accountable for providing experiences that are inclusive, exciting, and just plain fun.

The Canadian Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of History is currently in the midst of an extensive renewal. The Children’s Museum has 30 years’ experience and knowledge in operating a successful children’s museum, but is looking outwards as well, sharing its own best practices while welcoming the expertise of others as it seeks to remain relevant for years to come.

Throughout the symposium, various sessions will explore questions such as:

  • How have children, families and the ways they visit museums changed over the past 25 years?
  • How can museums stimulate creativity, imagination and resilience in young visitors, without falling into excessive pedagogy or taking sides in a cause or issue?
  • How can museums ensure they are accessible and inclusive? Are there exceptions?
  • What best practices can museums use in delivering and evaluating family learning?

What Is the Symposium’s Format?

This two-day event is scheduled for Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5, 2019. Sessions will be presented in either English or French, with simultaneous translation.

Day 1 — Wednesday, December 4
Canadian Museum of History Theatre and Theatre Lobby
Registration: 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Sessions: 1–5 p.m.
Reception: 5–7 p.m.
Welcome
Three Big Ideas speakers with Q&As
Refreshment break and Student Poster sessions
Evening Canadian Children’s Museum Reception: Meet the Children’s Museum Renewal Project Team
Day 2 — Thursday, December 5
Canadian Museum of History Theatre and Theatre Lobby
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Networking
Big Ideas speaker
Two Big Ideas in Action sessions
Refreshment break, Student Poster sessions
Closing remarks and End of Symposium

Main Messages

In today’s world, young visitors and their families are emerging as a key museum demographic. In addition to supporting early learning and cognitive development, museums are well placed to provide children with the tools they need to navigate their world, while gaining social, emotional and physical skills.

By providing safe and welcoming learning environments, museums can help children learn through structured and constructive play. By offering programming that encourages creativity, problem-solving and sharing, museums are helping to shape not only tomorrow’s museumgoers, but tomorrow’s world. This symposium explores the transformation of museums and the museum experience, while examining the most effective means of engaging all children and families in meaningful ways.

Who Is this Symposium for?

The Symposium on Family Learning, Inclusion and the Value of Play in Museums is aimed at professionals from regional, national, and international museums, as well as anyone with an interest in family learning, play, inclusivity, and accessibility. In addition, the symposium will include a collaboration with local college and university students, in the form of a poster session to run throughout the symposium.

Some 150 guests are expected to participate and share their expertise and creative commentary on a wide range of topics during this important two-day event.

Student Poster Session Callout for the Symposium on Family Learning, Inclusion and the Value of Play in Museums

Canadian Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of History — December 4–5, 2019

The Symposium on Family Learning, Inclusion and the Value of Play in Museums is seeking submissions from college and university students engaged in work involving topics such as children and family learning, play, accessibility, and museum spaces. Expressed visually in the form of a standard-sized poster, selected submissions will be showcased to a wide range of international museum professionals, academics, and early learning experts.

The Symposium will take place at the Canadian Children’s Museum, located at the Canadian Museum of History. As the Children’s Museum gears up for a major renewal, it is exploring the world of young visitors and their families in the 21st century — from play-based family learning and inclusion, to accessibility and public engagement.

What to Submit:

  • Your CV
  • A 300-word abstract detailing your project
  • A simple mock-up of your poster as a PDF or JPEG

Send your submission no later than SEPTEMBER 30, 2019 at 5 p.m. EDT. to symposium@historymuseum.ca

Registration fees will be waived for selected participants.