Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)

What did you learn at the museum today?

In 2003, RCMG was commissioned by Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to evaluate the pilot education programmes of the three Phase 1 Hubs and support MLA in demonstrating the impact that Renaissance in the Regions investment would have on users.


The Renaissance in the Regions Report (2001) recommended a new integrated framework for the museum sector in order to promote excellence and develop services, particularly the development and improvement of the learning and education potential of museums. MLA and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) invested significant funds in the Renaissance in the Regions programme to deliver a comprehensive and integrated service to schools via regional museum ‘Hubs.’ 

Aims and objectives

What did you learn at the museum today? was an innovative research study and was the first national, large-scale study to focus on the learning outcomes of school visits to museums across three regions of England. Multiple research methods were used, both quantitative and qualitative, and were framed using the concept of the Generic Learning Outcomes. Over 1,000 teachers and over 20,000 pupils gave their views on museums, which established a baseline for future research.

The specific objectives of the research were to:
  • Provide baseline information about the activities of the Phase 1 Hubs run over the summer 2003, showing the range and type of activities and the numbers of school-aged children and accompanying adults reached
  • Establish how many pupils and teachers visited Phase 1 Hubs between September 1st and October 31st 2003 and assess how this number differs from the number of visits undertaken in the same time period in 2002
  • Identify from quantitative and qualitative research with teachers the learning that has taken place and analyse this against the generic learning outcomes and the outcomes posed by DfES
  • Relate the teachers’ perceptions of their pupils’ learning to the perceptions of the pupils themselves

Key findings

What did you learn at the museum today? showed that an impressive increase occurred in school visits to museums as a result of the Renaissance in the Regions investment. In addition, a surprisingly high number of these schools were located in some of the most deprived areas of England.

The research found that museums are seen by pupils of all ages as good places to learn in a way different from school, and teachers see museums as places where the enjoyment and inspiration experienced by their pupils acts as a pathway to learning. Enjoyment, Inspiration, Creativity was the learning outcome that teachers value most highly; through the enjoyment, engagement and surprise that pupils experience during their museum visit, they are inspired to learn more, to broaden their aspirations and to feel more confident about themselves as learners.

However, teachers do not always find using museums easy. There is a great deal of work involved in taking pupils out of school – there are high levels of administration and a degree of risk is perceived. In addition, although teachers are very satisfied with the educational provision made by museums especially for them, they frequently found that the museum as a whole was not welcoming or easy to use.


What did you learn at the museum today? The evaluation of the impact of the Renaissance in the Regions Education Programme in the three Phase 1 Hubs (August, September and October 2003) (Report, 2004) (PDF 4786kb)

Back to top