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Evidences of Learning in an Art Museum Makerspace

Thesis by Amy Oates (2015)

While makerspaces have gained momentum in recent years, some people are questioning the learning value of these hands-on spaces. This study investigated instances of learning observed in the context of an art museum makerspace, using a framework developed by researchers at the Exploratorium, San Francisco. Additionally, the study examined the efficacy of this framework for measuring learning in a makerspace outside of a science museum context. Twenty-five visitors were observed in the Maker Lounge at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA. Results show that visitors who participated in Maker Lounge activities evidenced a range of behaviors mapping to the Learning Dimensions Framework, largely similar to evidences of learning previously observed in a science center’s makerspace. These results extend the conversation about learning within makerspaces, suggesting that learning can occur across varying makerspace contexts and calling for further research to examine the design, facilitation, and implementation of museum-based makerspaces.


Keywords: makerspace, making, art museums, learning, video observations, children, education, evidences of learning, learning science, maker movement, tinkering


Oates, A. (2015). Evidences of learning in an art museum makerspace. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. (Order No. 1599891). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1730399851). Retrieved from