April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Promoting Positive Attitudes in Children Towards Museums and Art: A Case Study of the Use of Tate Kids in Primary Arts Education

Koula Charitonos, The Open University, United Kingdom


One of the challenges for museums in the Web era is to complement, enhance and extend on-site learning with on-line learning. Web statistics often indicate a high number of users of schools resources in museums’ Web sites; however, these numbers do not reveal how the resources are being used in the classroom. This paper seeks to gain a better understanding on how to support use of museums’ Web sites for learning in primary art education.

It attributes specific importance to the role that museum Web sites can have in promoting positive attitudes in  children towards museums and art and in particular it aims to address to what extent the use of museums’ Web resources can enhance learning and engage young people with museums. ‘Tate Kids’ ( was selected as a case study and its Online Collection was explored by two Year 5 classes in a primary school located in greater London. Evidence from the case study suggests that the use of an art museum Web site was beneficial for learning in art and influenced positively children’s attitudes towards art and museums.

It is argued that positive attitudes towards art and museums, as well as ‘interpretive skills,’ are critical for children in experiencing meaningful art museum on-line visits and in getting engaged with the museum.

Keywords: on-line learning, attitudes, art education, Tate Kids


Advances in Web technologies provide the means for museums to “reconstruct the value of their authentic experiences” (Gilmore and Pine, 2007), and aid in complementing, enhancing and extending on-site learning with on-line learning. At the same time, formal educational systems worldwide are challenged to respond adequately to the constant and rapid changes taking effect in the Web and to find ways to integrate Web technology appropriately into the curriculum.

In the UK, museums seem to be valued by teachers because they provide access to primary resources (Arbach, 2007). Statistics show a high number of school children visit museums in the UK annually (1.9 million in formal education visits to state funded museums in 2008-09) (DCMS, 2010). Though high numbers of users and visit sessions are also often indicated by Web statistics of school resources in museums’ Web sites, these numbers do not actually reveal how these resources are being used in the classroom. In practice, it seems that effective and sustainable bridges between the wealth of museum digital content and the classroom environment have not yet been built (Peacock et al. 2009). It is quite evident that in school settings, some mechanisms are required to ensure the quality and efficacy of the museum Web resources used.

This paper is concerned with the potential that art museum Web sites have in enhancing and extending school-based practice. It aims, thus, to gain a better understanding of how to support good use of museum Web sites for teaching and learning in the primary visual arts. In particular, this paper investigates whether museums’ Web resources can promote positive attitudes in young people towards art and museums, and it seeks to answer the question, ‘To what extent do museums’ on-line objects enhance learning and engage children with museums?’

Attitudes towards Art and Museums

Attitudes “play a significant role in influencing and guiding action, emotions, and knowledge processes” (Pavlou and Kambouri 2007, 282); yet few studies have focused directly on pupils’ attitudes towards art. Positive attitudes may enable pupils to engage meaningfully with arts at school and later on in their adulthood. Negative attitudes can obscure pupil’s future attempts to engage with art as adults.

The relationship children build with art is claimed to be largely influenced by the approach to art education. In England this approach is defined by the National Curriculum of Art and Design (NC). The NC particularly values the extrinsic value of art education, and it thus views art and design as a discipline which contributes to learning across the curriculum.

Herne (2000) found that the importance allocated to the subject in primary schools is a key influence on young people’s attitudes to art and design. The significance teachers have in influencing children’s attitudes is also pointed out (Watts, 2005; Pavlou and Kambouri, 2007).

For children to get engaged with art, knowledge of the vocabulary related to art and design and of the ways of looking at visual art is also necessary. Stibbs (1998, 203) claims that such knowledge will enable children to “enjoy talking about vision, to enjoy looking at visual art, and to enjoy just looking at things”.  However, these skills have to be taught to children in order for them to have meaningful encounters with artworks and to interpret the world with its rich and complex visual displays.

It has been argued that groups of people form ‘interpretive communities’ which use common ‘interpretive strategies’ when constructing meaning (Hopper-Greenhill, 1999, 13). For children, such an ’interpretive community’, is arguably more likely to have a lack of appropriate ‘interpretive strategies’. It is, therefore, crucial to provide this community with a repertoire of strategies that will enable their interpretation and meaning-making process. When neither schools nor museums make such provision for children unfamiliar with artworks or art museums, then frustration and disengagement may develop, as supported by a report published by the Research Centre of Museum and Galleries (RCMG, 2001).

Mason and Mc Carthy (2006) argue that the younger age group is one of the groups that museums constantly fail to consider. More to this point, Bartlett and Kelly (2000) report that youth audiences have poor perceptions towards museums, as they view museums as “boring, didactic, unapproachable and preoccupied with the past” (cited in Mason and McCarthy, 2006, 22). While the literature mainly refers to either youth audiences’ or adults’ perceptions regarding museums (Stylianou-Lambert, 2009; Mason and McCarthy 2006), perceptions are usually formed in the earlier stages of one’s life. It has been also argued that differences in perceptions regarding art galleries vary with age; young visitors tend to use more aspects of their experiences in judging the ‘goodness’ of an art museum(Caldwell and Coshall, 2002: cited in Mason and McCarthy 2006) and thus in forming their perceptions. A recent finding shows that visitation decisions are influenced by the way museum visitors perceive museums (Stylianou-Lambert, 2009). It is, thus, crucial for very young people to experience meaningful visits to museums, as positive perceptions can act as a dynamic device for creating a potential active audience for the future.

It is important for developing new audiences to investigate how art museums can challenge people’s negative or indifferent perceptions of art and museums. Web technologies provide museums with the means to reach out and impact on new audiences, as a number of projects (e.g. ‘ArtPad: A collection. A connection’; Art for Storytelling’) in relation to art education and museum on-line provision have shown (Hoang and Kjorlien, 2008; Fisher et al., 2008). Museum Web sites which appeal to young audiences could be one method museums employ in complementing their learning provision to schools, facilitating the meaning making process, and promoting positive attitudes in children towards museums.

 Research Methodology

The ‘Inspiring Learning for All’ Framework is the theoretical framework for the research presented in this paper. The framework is underpinned by five Generic Learning Outcomes (GLOs): Knowledge and Understanding; Skills; Attitudes and Values; Enjoyment, Inspiration and Creativity; Activity, Behaviour and Progression (MLA 2008). The paper focuses on the first three GLOs.

This framework and the Research Question Bank provided on its Web site ( formed the basis for developing the research instruments.

The case study research method was used in this research. This research focused on children and sought to understand their perceptions of events by providing descriptions of participants’ experiences, thoughts and feelings about a situation. The case study was thus seen as appropriate in reaching a better understanding of how museum Web sites can be used in teaching and learning.

Tate Kids was selected as a case study, as it uses Web 2.0 features such as user-generated content. In particular, a unique feature of Tate Kids is ‘My Gallery’ (Fig. 1), an on-linecommunity of users within the Web site. Users create their profiles, choose works of art from Tate Kids Collection (a subset of around 500 works from the gallery’s main on-line collection), add them to their gallery, and upload their own artworks. They can also rate artworks and write comments (Jackson, 2009).

The study focused specifically on Tate Kids Online Collection. Leftwich and Bazley (2009) showed that teachers are more willing to use high quality images of certain objects than an expensive interactive game that contains the same objects. They also found that teachers are frequently searching for a primary source that they can adapt within an existing lesson scheme.

Figure 1

Fig 1: Tate Kids: ‘My Gallery’ page ( (accessed Aug 2009)

A co-educational primary school in Greater London participated in the project. The sample of the study consisted of 43 children: the first Year 5 class (Class A-Teacher A) had 22 pupils, while the second class (Class B- Teacher B) 21 pupils.

For each class, the project entailed two sessions in the school’s ICT suite (approx. 90 min each), an introductory session in the classroom (approx. 80 min), and another one after the project was completed (approx. 30 min). In addition, individual sessions with each group (13 groups in total), where the ‘artcasts’ were produced, were facilitated by the researcher.

Several research techniques were employed in this study, such as:

  • interviews
  • a pre-test and post-test questionnaire
  • observation of the participants (activity sheets, meaning maps, children’s use of the Web site, audio files with children’s discussions while choosing the artworks and their interpretation of the artworks [‘Artcasts’])

 The instruments to collect the data, as well as the order that the activities took place in,  are shown on Table 1. For the purposes of this paper, only the data collected from classroom observation and the interviews will be presented.

Data collection order  Nature of activity Purpose of activity Research Instruments Type of evidence collected
1st activity Questionnaire distributed among participants To identify participants’ prior views about art and museums Pre-test Questionnaire (QI) 37 completed QI
2nd Activity a. 1st activity with ‘Ophelia’ To study participants in their natural environment Observation of the participants
  • Fieldnotes
  • Activity Sheet 1 (AS1)
b. Classroom Discussion
  • Fieldnotes
  • Activity Sheet 4 – (AS4)(Meaning Maps n=12)
c. ICT sessions
  • Fieldnotes
  • Activity Sheet 3 (AS3)
  • Audio Files (mp3s)
d. ‘Artcasts’
  • Fieldnotes
  • Activity Sheet 3 (AS3)
  • Audio Files (mp3s)
e. 2nd activity with ‘Ophelia’
  • Fieldnotes
  • Activity Sheet 2 (AS2)
3rd Activity Questionnaire distributed among participants To identify participants’ final views about art and museums Post test Questionnaire (QII) 40 completed QII
4th Activity Face to face interviews with the participants and teachers
  • To explore participants’ attitudes towards museums and art and their experience of the project. 
  • To explore teachers views on the project and their perspectives on using museums’ web-resources in teaching and learning.
  • children (n=16)
  • Teacher A Teacher B
  • Fieldnotes
  • Audio Files (mp3s)
  • Transcriptions

Table 1.  Research Instruments and Data Collection Order

Analysis Of Data  

The analysis of the data is structured around the ‘Attitudes and Values’ and the ‘Knowledge and Understanding/Skills’ categories of GLOs. ‘Attitudes and Values’ discusses children’s attitudes towards museums and art before and after the intervention, while ‘Knowledge and Understanding/Skills’ presents the interpretive strategies children employed when talking about works of art.

Attitudes and Values

Children’s prior attitudes towards museums

During the introductory session, children were asked to write a definition of what a museum is on a blank sheet of paper. The perception ‘museum as a learning place’ emerged from these ‘group meaning maps’(n=12).Meaning maps have been used by some researchers to assess learning in museums (e.g. Renaissance et al., 2006). The main advantage of meaning mapping is that it provides participants with time to reflect on their feelings and thoughts through free association, and thus deeper responses are elicited (Stylianou-Lambert 2009,146). Children’s meaning maps showed that museums seem to be intertwined with knowledge (Fig. 2). This was also indicated by their responses to the question, “Why should we have museums?” e.g “museums gives us a chance to learn things and see things we wouldn’t be able to see without museums”.

Figure 2

Fig 2: A museum is…(Class A)

The perception that learning in museums is mainly “about things from the past” was common among the groups; it was noted by some groups that museums are placeswhereold things can be explored”. The ‘group meaning maps’ also indicate that children think of museums as something tangible, as there was no reference to a virtual version of a museum.

In addition, for two groups of children a museum is usually “an old building”,“old and retired people are there” and “old artefacts are stored”. More groups made reference to the types of objects museums hold, like paintings, pictures or “unique art from all around the world”, again referring to the tangible notion.

When the children were asked in the introductory session to recall one experience they had in a museum, they mentioned specific artefacts and facts they learned. It seems that for the majority of the participants, museums are places which you visit to ‘observe things’. When a similar question was asked in the interview regarding museum visit experiences, the perception that a museum is - or can be - boring was a repeated theme. Sally and Elena’s responses are indicative:

Sometimes they [museums] can get a bit boring, because there is not much to do…when you just have to read lots about a statue […] it gets a bit boring […] We are all tired when we go to museums


I enjoyed it[visit to National Portrait Gallery],but some bits were boring because we had to sit down for ages! Somebody was just talking to us and we just had to fill in a sheet about what kind of things we liked…

The perception ’museums are boring’ was also present in the children’s ‘group meaning maps’. Only three groups out of twelve relate museums to a place where “sometimes things are funny”.

Children’s final attitudes towards museums

One of the main questions in the interview regarding children’s attitudes towards museums was, ‘Has this project made you feel any differently, or more strongly, about museums?’ Twelve out of sixteen gave a positive answer to this question, while only two were negative. Laredo commented that, “before Tate’s Web site I used to think that museums are sometimes boring, but after the project […] I think that museums are really that good […]”, while Nelson’s comment was that, “I thought that museums…you go there and look at things and that’s it…but now, I know they have Web sites and I can go on them”.

In contrast, Louise was consistent in her opinion that she does not like museums, although experience from this project changed her perception towards art museums. Her response is indicative: “I feel like…I want to go to art galleries or other galleries […]”.

Another question was for children to identify what they experienced on the project that made them feel strongly about museums. The dominant answer was ‘the Web site’, followed by ‘doing our gallery’.

The interview data has also showed that all the children interviewed would like to visit Tate Gallery. While before the intervention, none of the interviewees was aware of Tate Gallery’s existence, afterwards more than a third of the interviewees showed a particular interest in wanting to find more about or visit Tate. Moreover, all the interviewees have mentioned that they have showed or talked about the Web site to either their family or friends.

Children’s prior attitudes towards art

The vast majority of the children have positive attitudes towards art. This observation is supported by their responses during the interview when asked to describe their normal arts lessons. Children relate to the art lesson as a fun experience, and their responses were shaped by their feelings during the arts lesson. However, it seems that children relate art to ‘art making’ experiences, as terminology like painting, sketching, shading and drawing was widely used among them. Additionally, almost all of them refer to art as being purely a school subject or something experienced during school time.

In trying to identify children’s prior skills in approaching artworks, Maria’s comment in the interview was indicative: “It’s because I don’t get the picture, I don’t really get the picture…and I don’t know if the artwork is good”. The children’s experience in looking at and talking about art during school time seems to be limited, according to their comments in the interviews. Children could recall only one similar experience from their visit to the National Portrait Gallery. However, Maria made a very interesting comment in relation to art museum-visits. “Art”, she said, “isn’t treated as in school. When you get to do some stuff out of school for art, you don’t get to do as much as you do at school”. This might be linked to the dominant perception children share towards art, which is that art is purely a practical activity. This perception is supported by their school’s current practice in the art lesson. Thus, there seems to be a gap between ‘art done at school’ and ‘art done at the museum’. Children seem to think that the art done at school is more ‘authentic’.

Children’s final attitudes towards art

A key question during the interview related to the children’s perceptions towards art was, ‘Has this project made you feel any differently, or more strongly, about art?’ Twelve out of sixteen gave a positive answer to this question. Harry, whose opinion on art was initially negative, said “I feel better now, I can talk about art […] It [the project] was good because we learnt about art. In art we just do art, while we can talk about it now” while Nelson commented: “I was never too keen about art […], I’m still not too keen but it gave me a bit more boost on art”.

In the final question during the interview, ‘What do you think art is?’ there was evidence that some children started thinking differently about art. They seem to realise that art is not purely ‘practice’. Art “is not just drawing…” Harry said, while Louise replied “[…]I wouldn’t think it’s just scribbling on paper, I would say it’s something else, like looking at the picture, see if there is information or a story […]”.Arguably children started viewing art in a broader way, and the following comment is indicative: “Art is for everyone. You may draw a picture and you may not like it but someone else might like it and get stuff from it. You might see a picture and you might not like it but someone else might like it […]” (Tahir)

Knowledge and Understanding/Skills

One aim of this research was to examine whether there was a change in children’s understanding of, and ability to ‘look at and talk about art’ by using Tate Kids Web site. This aspect is related to two of the GLOs categories, ‘Skills and ‘Knowledge & Understanding’.

Two questions related to exploring skills were asked during the interviews: ‘What new things – if any – have you found out how to do?’ and ‘Did you learn a new skill from this project?’ Children’s answers included ‘computer skills(n=5), ‘doing the recording (artcasts)’ (n=7) and ‘talking about art’ (n=8). In response to a similar question, the two teachers reported that the children have mainly gained ICT and social skills. Also, they both supported the view that children became more familiar with art through this project and more comfortable in talking about art. This was also supported by the positive responses of all the children in interviews to the question, ‘Do you feel confident in looking and talking about art?’. Six of the children said that ‘talking about art’ was the most important thing that they learned from this experience. For example, Laredo said it “Is what I liked the most…you can actually make a really proper discussion!” while Louise’s response was that she learnt “how to pick up a picture and talk about it in detail, discuss it in different ways and think about it […]”.  

Children’s interpretive skills in approaching works of art

The following section discusses the specific interpretive strategies children employed in the various activities.

The analysis is structured around three themes:

  • visual analysis of the artwork (colour, tone, composition, form, space)
  • the process of art-making (materials, technique and style)
  • the ‘socio-cultural context’ of the artwork (subject-matter, artist, personal associations and context)(RCMG, 2001).

Activities with ‘Ophelia’

In order to identify children’s prior skills in approaching artworks, children were asked to give their interpretation of ‘Ophelia’ (Fig.3).

Figure 3

            Fig 3: ‘Ophelia’ by John Everett Millais

On their first attempt, all the children placed the painting into the socio-cultural context; however, they were mainly describing what the scene consists of or giving their interpretation of it (27 out of 37). Some of the children also made up a story about the painting (10 out of 37) and only a few made personal associations with the artwork (5 out of 37). Only one tried to place the artwork in a context, and none referred to the artist or process of art-making. Additionally, only three children referred to the visual analysis of the artwork, and then only to colour.

In their second attempt to make-meaning from the artwork, the children employed a wider range of strategies. There was an increase in the number of children who made reference to the visual elements of the painting (14 out of 37). Yet it is clear from their comments that they lack special vocabulary and knowledge of concepts associated with these elements. Three children included information on the materials ‘Ophelia’ was made of, but only one made a specific reference to such materials. ‘Placing artwork in the socio-cultural context’ emerged as a dominant strategy in children’s second attempt to interpret the artwork. Many of them described what the scene consists of or gave their interpretation (18 out of 37). Some children (8 out of 37) tried to identify what the meaning of the painting was. There were more children compared to the first attempt who made up a story for the painting (17 out of 37), or made personal associations with the artwork (24 out of 37). This is a significant development as it represents the starting point for constructing knowledge and the meaning-making process. It emerged that only four children tried to situate the painting within a context. In the second attempt, more children asked for the title of the artwork and the artist and included those in their interpretation. Seven children acknowledged the artist in their comments.

Comments on ‘Tate Kids’

Fourteen children posted twenty-two comments on ten artworks chosen from the Tate Kids Collection. A few comments were written during the ICT session, others in the children’s free time. All of them were written one or two days after the sessions at school were completed except one which was written two weeks after the project. There were indications from interview data that children were using other features of the Web site for a longer period of time, and updates in the users’ profiles were observed.

‘Socio-cultural context’ emerged as a dominant strategy in their comments. In three of the comments, children tried to find the meaning of the artwork; seven of the comments made personal associations; in five comments the children acknowledged the artist. Four of the comments  referred to visual elements of the artworks.

It was also noticeable that children were not involved in dialogic conversation around any of the artworks (Fig. 3).

Figure 4

Fig 4: Children’s comments on the ‘Explosion’ by Roy Lichtenstein (Source: (accessed Aug 2009)

There were some comments like “I love it…just love it”, “That is well cool!!!” or “It looks very nice and unique” in which no strategies are employed. The challenge for the Tate Kids is to find a way for its users to move beyond such comments to be meaningfully engaged with the artworks.


All the artcasts (n=13) referred to paintings from the Tate Kids collection. References to the artist’s name, the title of the artwork and the year it was made were included in all the artcasts.

The ‘socio-cultural context’ is a dominant interpretive strategy here as well. In all the artcasts children made up a story which often had personal associations (6 out of 13). In some of the paintings (3 out of 13) the children attempted to identify the meaning of the artwork.

Importantly, all the artcasts but one have references to visual elements of the artworks. Some of the groups used basic terminology referring to colours like “it’s colourful” (Group C). Their references were not restricted purely to colours as some referred to the tone and the form too in contrast to previous attempts with ‘Ophelia’ (6 out of 13). The following quote reflects that: “It is like a photograph because the colours are very real and have lots of details” (Group F).

Four groups referred to ‘processes of the art-making’, by describing the materials and the techniques. For example,

Picasso used charcoal in areas to show where the shadow is and he used chalk in other areas to show where the light is shining. On one of the ears he has mainly used chalk to show that one of the ears is sticking out […] He used charcoal and chalk on white paper…(Group E).

Only one group (Group E), interpreting ‘A head of a young boy’ (by Pablo Picasso), placed its artwork into a context. However, that occurred only after I prompted them to expand their thoughts on the year the painting was made (1945). As they had prior knowledge of World War II, meaning making was facilitated and their comment on the artcast was: “The picture was made when the war finished at 1945. I think the reason why the artist aint’ showing the body is because the boy got executed”.

One example of a group that could have placed its artwork in a broader context was Group A. Its artwork was The meeting or have a nice day Mr Hockney. The children were not aware of the famous English artist David Hockney, and the Web site did not make any links or provide information on Hockney. It was only after I prompted the group to think about the name in the title that one group member suggested searching the Internet for that name. However, even after their search, the group did not use the new knowledge in their interpretation. The reference on Hockney in the artcast is in scene description: “The one in white would be Mr Hockney’s assistant and I think they would say: ‘Have a nice day Mr Hockney’. Mr Hockney would say ‘Thank you’”.

Video and interview data indicated that artcasting was a very enjoyable experience for the children. When children were asked about their most enjoyable activity, (interview) recording their artcast emerged with high responses.


This study on how the Tate Kids on-line collection can be used with primary school children to support and extend the arts curriculum has revealed some general themes.

One of the main findings of the study is that the use of a museum’s Web site helped to build positive perceptions towards museums among the participants. A great majority of the participants now view museums in a more positive way.

Another key point emerging from the research was that art museum Web sites can expose children to aesthetic experiences and encounters with art. Children perceived art as predominantly an ‘art making’ experience. None of the participants made a reference to the notion of ‘aesthetic appreciation’ in the arts, even though it is among the ‘Art and Design’ curriculum targets. After the completion of the study, more children viewed art in a highly positive and broader way and not exclusively as an ‘art making’ experience. Further analysis suggests that children also gained confidence in looking at and talking about art. This paper emphasizes that the use of art museums’ Web sites in school settings can be particularly beneficial for a holistic approach towards primary art education.

In terms of the children’s skills in interpreting artworks, the study showed that such skills were initially limited. Children did not have a repertoire of strategies available to them to draw on when approaching works of art. Based on the evidence from the research, it could be argued that school practice did not provide the children with such strategies. Once the project was completed, more children were employing the ‘personal’ strategy, which according to the constructivist theory is the first framework individuals use to find points of connection between themselves and the artwork (RCMG 2001). It was also observed that they referred to the visual elements of the artwork in greater frequency and depth than before, and to some extent to the artistic processes the artist used to create the artwork. However, the improvement noticed in children’s’ use of interpretive strategies might have resulted from the traditional approach in teaching employed during the sessions and not purely from Web site use. This approach included a presentation ‘Looking at and talking about art’ and a leaflet given to the children.

This research also reinforced the argument of Fischer et al. (2008) that lack of the relevant vocabulary related to art and design restricts the meaning-making process. It was noted that children had a limited vocabulary regarding art, and they also found it very difficult to make inferences on the materials or the processes used purely from the digital image. It has been argued that familiarity with how the work was created can be important to its understanding (Hoang and Kjorlien 2008);‘Tate Kids’ does not provide any tools that enable users to familiarize themselves with the artistic process.

Further to that, it was observed that in the children’s own interpretations, their attempts to situate the painting within a context was feasible only when specific prompts were given to them by the researcher or the teacher. Tate Kids does not put the paintings in any context, apart from general categories in terms of the content (like People, Nature, Games and others) and the name of the artists, dates and the title of the artwork. Limited provision of contextual information available on digital objects might have an impact on the meaning-making process and possibly on  children’s level of engagement with the museum Web site and the quality of their learning. It could be argued that if contextual information were provided on the museum’s Web site, the meaning-making process would be facilitated, although further research is needed to support this observation. This finding relates to the main aim of this study of investigating whether the Web resources of Tate Kids engages children with the museum Web site and enhances learning.

In regards to children’s engagement with the Web site, it was found that children were using features of the Web site like ‘My Gallery’ and ‘Street Art’ after being introduced to them. Several of the interviewees mentioned that personalised features of the Tate Kids, such as their own account and gallery, were important in making them feel included and engaged. There were also indications that the children were recommending the Web site to friends and family. However, interview data also showed that only a few children were interested in writing comments about the artworks on-line. As a result, children were not actively engaged in on-line discussions on the ‘Tate Kids’. Among the reasons identified in this study were the infrastructural constraints and children’s limited familiarity in discussing art. Children during the ICT sessions were working in groups, and lack of enough computers prevented children from individually using their accounts for interacting with each other on the Web site.

Moreover, although it is clear that through this project children gained interpretive skills, their ability to discuss artworks and comment on them may require more than an ‘open call’ for contributions to the artworks with any comments, as is currently the case on the Tate Kids. Especially, responding to contemporary art or art from different styles, genres or media - which are included on the Tate Kids Collection - becomes very difficult if prior exposure to such art is limited. Children’s selections on the Web site indicate that they lack familiarity with such art. Hence, it is not simply enough to include an opportunity to add content to a Web site or a two-way communication feature without providing extra tools to the users to facilitate this process. Particularly in ‘Tate Kids’, some prompts on how to approach the artworks could be included, and terminology around art/contemporary art or layers of extra information within the Web site would be of value.

This research has raised some issues for museums in their future development. An important issue is that museums need to find ways to ‘raise awareness’ in the target audience about their on-line learning materials. Another issue is how the awareness and the excitement children feel after being introduced to the Web site can be transformed to a sustained engagement with the museum’s Web site and subsequently with the museum itself.


As with any case study, the fact that this research was conducted in particular research settings and context poses limitations on the generalisability of the findings.

This paper demonstrated that the use of art museums’ Web resources can be beneficial for children’s learning in the arts. They can promote positive attitudes among young people towards museums and art and have the potential to develop and extend children’s interpretive strategies and skills and engage them with the museum.

Museums’ Web sites can be the means for museums to build bridges with schools and engage children. However, in order for museums to achieve a sustained engagement with children, their Web sites should provide the tools that enable interpretive skills and strategies to be developed and facilitate communication for the users to experience meaningful visits. The absence of such tools is more likely to create non-meaningful museum experiences and disengagement from the museum.

Arguably, the roles of both education and museum sectors in facilitating meaningful museum experiences are important. Yet further research on how museum and education sectors can complement each other and utilize the learning potential of the Web to provide children with the means for a deeper engagement with art and active participation in art museums is still required.


I am very grateful to my supervisors, Dr. Canan Blake, Dr. Ann Jones and Professor Eileen Scanlon for their guidance, support and help throughout this research process. I would like to acknowledge Sharna Jackson, the Tate Kids Editor of Tate Online, for supporting my research. My appreciation also goes to the deputy head and the two teachers of the primary school in London for allowing me to conduct this study in their classes. Last, the young participants in this study certainly deserve the very greatest respect.  


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Cite as:

Charitonos, K., Promoting Positive Attitudes in Children Towards Museums and Art: A Case Study of the Use of Tate Kids in Primary Arts Education . In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2010: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2010. Consulted