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The Museum School

How can we use existing infrastructure to help solve inequality of educational provision?

The Museum School reduces educational inequality by bringing schooling to underprivileged children in the form of their local museums, giving them high-quality infrastructure, teachers and materials, as well as access to a whole world of knowledge!

HundrED 2018


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2018

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Target group
September 2017
We brought in children who never went to school or dropped out of school - we didn’t tell them we were taking them to study we told them we were just going to a museum... we were astonished to see how they reacted... all the questions they brought up were the first steps to their education and they didn't even know they were being educated

About the innovation

What is The Museum School?

While access to basic education is now a right for all children in India, there is a great disparity in the quality of educational provision. Huge differences exist between the education received by poor and rich children with the former often taught in cramped multi-grade classes with one teacher. Schools may be small with few resources. This inequality of education contributes to an inequality of life chances, choices and an endless cycle of poverty. While privileged students get top quality infrastructure, extensive resourcesand many well-qualifiedteachers, poorer students lack these vital components of quality education.

The Museum School started out with a question;If education is the foundation of a country, why should such inequality exist?The Museum School aims to address the issues of poor infrastructure, limited resources and a lack of trained teachers by making use of a City’s Museums to provide quality education for socially deprived children. The project specifically targets children who are not attending school and equips them with an urge for knowledge, and confidence of expression, to re-enter mainstream education. The project is founded on the idea that museums are amongst the best teaching aids in the world and an untapped source of knowledge. The Museum School has subject experts from the museum training teachers to deliver high-quality education using the exhibits.

The Museum School grew from a Social Innovation Lab, OASiS, which identifies social problems and tries to find out-of-the-box solutions. For OASiS, quality education meant having an infrastructure and resources that nurture a child’s inquisitiveness, enough trained teachers to support and extend this curiosity, and exciting practical aids to support their teaching. They realised that their City had a wealth of subject-specific museums, with exhibits and resources that could promote and support learning.

An agreement was reached with five museums to allow them to take children to the museum every day. A group of volunteers mapped the exhibits and identified how they could be used to meet the needs of the curriculum. Student teachers from a local teacher training university joined educated girls from local slum communities to teach the children.

Children are driven to the museums where they are engaged in stories, games and activities, leading them to the topic for the day. To develop curiosity, children are encouraged to identify the exhibit for the topic. They are then provoked to ask questions about the exhibits and fill in the gaps in their knowledge. The Museum School’s curriculum offers a holistic education including academic knowledge, life skills, expression and debating skills, performing art skills and vocational skills, like most privileged children.

Confidence has been seen to increase and thishelps children not only to return to mainstream education but also demonstrate their continuous love and quest for learning, by returning to The Museum School, after school provision.

Over the past 12 years, The Museum School has taught more than 3,000 underprivileged students, some of whom have gone on to study at university, some have started their own businesses and some have returned to the school as teachers. The Museum Schools has also had a positive impact on the children’s communities with the children acting as Ambassadors. Women from the community, who have trained to teach in the school, gain a higher status in the society, as teachers.When once parents may have been reluctant to let their children go to school, The Museum School is now oversubscribed.

A key challenge is the distance between the underprivileged areas in cities (slums) and the museums. This challenge is heightened in rural areas where there are no museums at all. In order to overcome this difficulty, The Museum School is exploring the use of virtual reality. Lessons at the museums are being recorded in 3D to provide an immersive experience for students in rural schools so that they get the same quality education virtually. The Virtual Museum School (ViMS) is open to receive funding and resource support, from all those willing to invest in taking this proven approach of quality education, to all children of the world.

The Museum School has won several awards including UNESCO’s ‘The Wenhui Award for Educational Innovation in Asia and the Pacific 2016’. The project is also part of the My primary school is at the Museumproject, developed by the Cultural Institute at King’s College London.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


Although museums are an invaluable source of knowledge, Indian museums have never been included in mainstream education on a regular basis. Museums struggle to get visitors’ footfall every day and underprivileged children struggle to get a quality education. The Museum School matches the two needs in a unique effort to provide quality education for underprivileged children.


Over the past 12 years, The Museum School has taught more than 3,000 underprivileged students, some of whom have gone on to study at university, started their own businesses, or even returned to the school as teachers. The Museum School has also had a positive impact on the children’s communities with the children acting as community Ambassadors. Women from the community can also benefit from training in the well-respected profession of teaching and this can improve their social status. When once parents may have been reluctant to let their children go to school, The Museum School is now oversubscribed.


The Museum School collaborates with multiple museums and makes them the regular schools for children. This approach has high scalability, as no separate school infrastructure is required, and children visit different museums (or galleries) on different days of the week, to study different subjects.

Implementation steps

Start thinking about collaborations
Identify museums in your area (they should be local enough so that you can travel to them easily and frequently) Think about approaching a whole range of museums with different subject specialisms.

  • Identify all the museums in the city,plot them on the citymap and approach the ones you'd like to collaborate with.

  • Identify communities of underprivileged children, and choose the museums that are within reachable distance from their community.

  • You may want to identify educated youth in the underprivileged community, and engage them as community volunteers.

  • You could also approach your local teacher training college/university to set up collaborations with student teachers.

Map the curriculum
Once you have set up a collaboration with a museum, get your volunteers and student teachers to map all museum exhibits with curriculum of all grades.

  • Recruit volunteers and student teachers

  • Share with them the curriculum for each grade

  • Give them aformat for mapping museum exhibits with the curriculum

  • Divide the subjects among volunteers depending upon their choice and ask themto map each exhibit with a topic of a subject of a grade, for which it can be used as a teaching aid.

  • Compile all lists and share with all volunteers, so that it gives them an opportunity to look at an exhibit from the different perspectives of various topics.

Train the teachers
Get your teachers trained in the cognitive learning approach and how best to use the museum exhibits as teaching aids.

Subject experts employed by the museums are a fantastic resource and should be involved in the project wherever possible.Ask them to train your volunteers and teacherson how to use the exhibits as teaching aids. You could also train the subject experts in the pedagogy and get them involved with teaching sessions, too.

Organize your timetable
Unlike mainstream schools, The Museum School usually covers one or two subjects in a day, as the children go to different museums on different days.

  • The Timetable of The Museum Schooluses different spaces in the museum for different subjects, literacy, and other academic aspects.

  • For sports and other physical activities, The Museum School makes uses oflocal stadiums, parks or open grounds.

Arrange group dynamics
It's best to engage children in small groups, around 15 children to one teacher, so that all children receive personalized attention and the opportunity to ask questions.

Interactive learning becomes possible when group sizes are small, and every child gets an opportunity to question and seek answers.

  • Emphasis is on asking questions, as that removes all inhibitions among children.

  • This approach also opens up conversations among children, and between teacher and students.

  • Every child gets personalized attention, and understands and learns at his orher own pace.

  • When children are asked to write their understanding in their own words, it develops their expression abilities.

  • 'Cheating' or borrowing ideas is not frowned upon,as it can helpin peer-to-peer learning.

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