Engaging object agency: new ways of design learning and being for young people in the museum


  • Alice Hellard Goldsmiths, University of London


agential realism, museum pedagogy, object-based pedagogy, design agency, Christian-colonialism


This research investigates object intra-actions with young people in the design museum. Agency in relation to learning is under-researched in museum studies, and this is especially lacking in research that focuses on learning during secondary school visits to design museums. Further exploring agency through religious-political dimensions, another under-researched area is Christian and Christian-colonial influences in museology broadly, and in museum learning in particular. These influences are pertinent to learner and object agency due to their historical proscription of certain values and structures to knowledge and experience of the design object and its representations in the museum, and as such they co-constitute the entanglement of this research. The research aims to disrupt the status quo by using a design and new materialist methodological approach to make sense of and, where possible, make visible intra-actions between objects within this entanglement.

This paper is intended as a discussion piece which examines the historically imbued nature of design learning for young people in school visits to the museum, sets out the framework-methodology and frames a number of key questions to be explored further through the conference presentation. Agential realism underpins the theoretical-methodological framework which also supports my position as learner-researcher, and this positioning is further enhanced by my professional experience in museums, schools and the university. The research identifies alternative pedagogies for both schools and museums that are co-located between learners and museums as entangled producers of knowledge. This is a radical re-imagining of design pedagogies in museums and classrooms that contributes to the multi-stakeholder dialogue on decolonising methodologies within design education.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Hellard, A. (2023). Engaging object agency: new ways of design learning and being for young people in the museum. The 40th International Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology Conference Proceedings 2023, 1(October). Retrieved from https://openjournals.ljmu.ac.uk/PATT40/article/view/1763