Exploring the power of curiosity in museum learning

Why curiosity matters

At MakeMore Arts, creating curiosity is one of our ultimate goals. We love it when people take charge of their own learning, pursuing passions and getting immersed in their interests. We see our role not about imparting knowledge but to support everyone to learn for themselves.

1. Increasing engagement: Curiosity makes the learning process more enjoyable. It transforms education from a passive into an active and participatory.

2. Increasing intrinsic motivation: Curiosity is often driven by a desire to understand, discover, or solve problems. This intrinsic motivation is powerful because it comes from within.

3. Stimulating learning: Curiosity acts as a catalyst for learning by prompting us to seek information and engage in activities that expand our knowledge.

4. Enhancing memory: When individuals are curious about a topic, they are more likely to remember what they encounter. Curiosity stimulates the brain!

5. Encouraging critical thinking: Curiosity encourages us to question and evaluate. It fosters a mindset of inquiry and helps us make connections.

6. Promoting lifelong learning: Curious people are more likely to see learning as a part of life.

7. Building confidence: Successfully satisfying your curiosity can build self-esteem and empower learners to want to challenge themselves.

✴︎ Always


Stimulating curiosity through object-based learning

When Rosie was developing a brand new learning hub for 15 museums in the Highlands of Scotland, she built activities around the skills we need to be life-long learners, especially curiosity. All the activities were designed to support school teachers with digital access to museum objects.

She wanted learners to be able to explore the objects for themselves, despite using a digital platform.

One activity called ‘Object in Focus’ allows students to investigate ‘mystery objects’ through a series of photographs taken from unusual angles.

This activity is especially good for visual learners, but taps into all students’ natural curiosity as they are able to puzzle over the pictures and try to work out what each object could be. The activity challenges us to see things differently and explore the objects in more detail.

Another activity is ‘What’s that Noise?’

To make this, museum staff recorded the sounds that some of the objects make. It’s another great resource for stimulating curiosity as students can puzzle over what an object could be from its sound. It’s especially useful for auditory learners.

However, this activity also helps us to move closer to the people of the past by hearing the same things that they would have heard. It’s a great way to stimulate curiosity about the past.

Listening to the jangling of historic handcuffs from Cromarty Courthouse Museum is very eerie and evocative! When learners hear that recording, for a moment, they are right there with the prisoner.

This activity was designed to be accessed digitally by teachers and would make a great starter activity – whether they’re looking at the Victorians in primary school, the treatment of criminals for a psychology module, or even doing some creative writing in an English lesson.