Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Melody Milbrandt

Second Advisor

Dr. Janice Fournillier

Third Advisor

Dr. Kevin Hsieh

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Melanie Davenport


This single case study examines the role of the art museum in relation to students’ perceptions of themselves as artists. Within the school setting students are asked to create, study and exhibit art using similar techniques and methods of adult artists within the art community. Student artwork, however, is not perceived as art that is worthy of display within that art community and is usually limited to the school context. Additionally, if students visit museums with their school, the visit is typically limited to once per school year, if the budget allows. Students are not afforded the opportunity to visit the same museum or exhibit multiple times and are therefore limited in their ability to navigate the learning possibilities of an art museum and to establish an understanding of their role within an art community outside of school. The primary goal of this study was to understand how learning and exhibiting within the museum context affects students’ perceptions of themselves as artists. Specifically, the study focused on both the unique learning environment afforded by a museum, along with student art exhibition situated in a professional, non-school context. Using a single case study design, seven elementary school students in grades three thru five participated in learning activities within the context of an art museum. Visiting the same exhibit multiple times, the students explored the galleries at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art from the perspective of a museum visitor, docent, curator and artist. They also independently produced art work outside of the museum that culminated in a student exhibition held at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art. The findings of this research suggest that exhibition within the museum setting positively impacted the students but did not immediately influence their artist identity. The findings also demonstrate the value of providing students with the opportunity to visit not only the same museum multiple times but also the same exhibit in order to deepen student understanding and strengthen their awareness of the art community that exists outside of the classroom. The implications for art and museum educators are examined along with suggestions for further research.