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Keywords:

  • museum;
  • education;
  • art;
  • interpretation;
  • gallery

Abstract

Educational practices in art museums are determined, to a great degree, by ideas of art and interpretation put into play, consciously or not, by both museums and educators. This article presents the results of research conducted at Tate Britain in which we have analysed the concepts of art and interpretation that underlie the discourses of the educators interviewed in this gallery. To this end we have designed a methodological device, a model that proposes four ways of understanding and interpreting art commonly found in educational contexts. This model has arranged the various conceptions from more visual or perceptual approaches to the most experientially complex as those summarised below: works of art as a visual representation and interpretation as identification; works of art as a message to be revealed, and interpretation as decodification; works of art as an intellectual, historical and cultural fact, and interpretation as an opportunity for critical reflection; works of art as the materialisation of an experience, and interpretation as an opportunity for self-development. We conclude that in interviews with educators working in the Tate Britain different narratives about the idea of art and the idea of interpretation coexist, which in many cases are complementary and in some others are contradictory. Examples of the interviews are presented throughout the article.