Art as a Way of Knowing

Art as a Way of knowing - San Francisco 3/4 March 2011

In 2011, the Exploratorium hosted a conference called Art as a Way of Knowing. The purpose of the conference was to gather a broad range of artists, scientists, and educators to
explore the history, practice, and value of the arts as a means of inquiring into the natural world. The conference brought together some 125 leading international thinkers—

representing work in education, art and science museums, contemporary art, and interdisciplinary research. Participants gathered at the City Club, a venue in downtown San Francisco, and at an evening After Dark program at the Exploratorium, to participate in two days of presentations, discussions, performances, and roundtable conversations about art as a method of inquiry and way of knowing. In particular, we were interested in art practice in relation to the field of public engagement with science, including programs for children and youth in community-based organizations, schools, museums, and other types of learning environments.

The conference was structured into three main strands designed to facilitate dialogue about the role of art in learning, and in particular, its role in science learning:

• exploring art as a form of inquiry
• understanding lesser known histories of art, education, and science that converged to shape the post–World War II science museum and the institutional learning cultures that emerged from this legacy
• surveying the contemporary landscape, focusing on compelling ways in which artists are working in science and interdisciplinary contexts today, including in informal public learning environments. (NSF 2011, 5)

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