Articles | Volume 72, issue 1
Geogr. Helv., 72, 109–118, 2017

Special issue: Young people and new geographies of learning and education

Geogr. Helv., 72, 109–118, 2017

Standard article 07 Mar 2017

Standard article | 07 Mar 2017

The salience of liminal spaces of learning: assembling affects, bodies and objects at the museum

Dianne Mulcahy Dianne Mulcahy
  • Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia

Abstract. In this article, I work toward producing understandings of learning as liminal and as located in a liminal space. Framed as learning through the in-between, I engage with the concept of liminality as a way of unravelling the complexity of the practice of learning at the museum. Deploying data from video-based case studies of 40 school students' engagements with learning over the course of a visit to Museum Victoria, Australia, and utilising an analytic of assemblage, I map the spatial dynamics of learning in action. From analyses undertaken, it is argued that liminal spaces of learning open up in museum education and have a special salience. They have the potential to jump start the learner out of a comfortable state of mind and into a state of productive uncertainty. They also serve as a location for potential critique. More broadly, these analyses direct attention to the centrality of material practice and agency to liminality and liminal learning.

Short summary
In this article, the concepts of liminality and liminal space are engaged in the context of museum learning and education. Deploying data collected from Museum Victoria, Australia, the spatial dynamics of student learning at the museum were mapped. Liminal spaces of learning were found to have a special salience. Jump starting the learner out of a comfortable state of mind and into a state of productive uncertainty, these spaces challenge how museum learning is conventionally understood.