University and museum: a collaboration between learning and professionalization

It is often believed that the education departments of the museums are only aimed at children’s and family audiences, and unfortunately this erroneous concept means that many other audiences don’t make use of us as much as they could (and as much as we would like!). We would therefore like to take advantage of this space to reiterate that we are an educational resource for all ages and all cognitive states.


One of the groups with whom we are working to establish bridges of collaboration is that of higher education. Within this field, apart from the habitual task of providing information and working tools for the teachers and students, and facilitating direct access to the works of art (since January 2014 all the university students have free admission to the museum, regardless of their age), the museum has been asking itself what role we can play that is useful in the training of the future professionals and which at the same time takes advantage of our resources and heritage.

The first of our proposals has been the project “Thursdays we talk about…”, which we already did as a pilot project last year and this year we consolidated in the months of March and April. The proposal is very simple and at the same time very audacious: we ask the university students to carry out training with the museum staff and a research based around a work of the collection, which ends with a public presentation in front of the work, by the students.

Els dijous parlem de
In the design of this activity we wanted to combine various elements: the training of future historians; the contact with the professional world; the carrying out of habitual tasks in our field (research and public presentations); but also the optimisation of the resources of the museum as well as giving value to our collection, which is enriched by the visions and understanding of new generations of art historians.

The training that we offer them consists of several working sessions: one with the staff of the Department of Education and Activities, in which we work on how to prepare a presentation in front of the public, as well as selecting the work; a session to get acquainted with the collection, by following one of the guided visits; another working session with the Department of Conservation of the collection or of Exhibitions, so as to focus the research on a specific work; and at least one session, but more if they need them, of work in the library of the museum, where they can work with the extensive collection of catalogues and bibliographic documents, and with the personalised attention of the librarian.

The presentation in public is an exciting moment for the protagonists of this proposal, the future art historians that face the public and publicly present their work without any resources other than their own research, their knowledge and the work about which they have worked. It is a moment of catharsis and of conclusion of a work, a testing ground to get to know closely various professional aspects in a museum and to work with its professionals.

Another project that we have carried out during this course has been “Music for Picasso’s works”, a collaboration with the Conservatory of the Liceu, that during this course graduated its first batch of composers.

Musicant les obres de Picasso
Musical visit to the museum galleries

In this project, we held two working sessions with the students in which we discussed and talked about a selection of works of the museum. The first of the sessions took place in the galleries of the museum and the second in the classrooms of the conservatory, and in this way they got to know the museum first-hand and we also familiarized ourselves with their study and work spaces.

At the end of the second session, it was decided which would be the four works chosen that the compositions would be based around, and the students got down to work and to rehearse under the direction of the Head of the Department of Composition of the Conservatory of the Liceu, Benjamin Davies, while from our side we organized a session where on the one hand it was possible to enjoy the music in the galleries, in front of the work which had inspired the pieces, and on the other hand they would be able to present them in an acoustically suitable setting for a first performance of these characteristics.

On May 15th, after rehearsals and nerves, the first performances of these musical pieces took place, in which it was possible to choose how to listen to them: in the galleries in a more informal way, in what we called the “musical visit” (of which we offered two, to enable the access for everyone), or in the Lecture hall of the museum, in which, after a magnificent introduction given by Oriol Ponsatí-Murla, a more formal interpretation took place.

Musicant les obres de Picasso
From the museum we would like to emphasize, among other aspects, the relevance of having been involved in a first performance of these characteristics, a unique occasion that highlighted the creative capacity not only of the local composers but also of the collaborations between the entities.

And above all, we would like to stress the importance of generating new creations based around the work of Picasso, creations that are based on the knowledge of his work so as to give new creative visions, in this way making it current and alive, and enriching it with each one of these new visions.

The last university-museum relation that will take place during this 2013-14 course will be that of next week, in which we will present a course in collaboration with the University of Barcelona, within the framework of Els Juliols UB, “Transgression and tradition in the work of Picasso“.

Juliols UB
Picasso was very knowledgeable about the classical techniques of artistic creation and, throughout the years, he used this knowledge to transgress and take it to the limit, and in this way to obtain new creative responses. The course will explore various periods in which the innovative spirit of the artist is made evident, based on works of the collection of the museum.

The training will be structured in five days that will combine a first talk about various aspects of the artistic context of Picasso and his evolution as an artist, and a second presentation given by the Department of Restoration and Preventive Conservation of the museum. Furthermore, each session will include a visit to the galleries of the museum.

 Anna Guarro
Activities and Education

Related links
Course “Transgression and tradition in the work of Picasso

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