Teddy Josephsen, art educator at the Louisiana Modern Art Museum, Denmark




Framing Attention: Louisiana as Site and Practice


Teddy Josephsen


At Louisiana we like to think of ourselves as a school service in an alternative learning environment. This is meant in a very concrete way: the location of the museum and the architecture can become a positive difference to the everyday routines at the school. The alternative environment is generated by modes of teaching, but also – and that is Louisiana’s great advantage- by the site, the setting of a place outside the humdrum context.


Louisiana is situated outside the city, 35 kilometres north of Copenhagen. Most of the visiting schools need to take a train or bus to reach the museum, and that journey prepares the pupils, it’s a transition that increases their expectations and excitement: going out of town, out of the well known, to see this strange thing, art.


The museum is not just a space, any space; Louisiana is a place with characteristics, anchored to a specific landscape, and this integration of architecture and setting becomes a benefit when you meet the pupils. You don’t have to fight for their attention, because prior to any teaching situation, the site frames attention. The overall atmosphere of Louisiana works as a focalizer. The school classes get the feeling –and it works at a pre-linguistic level- that this is a special place, and special things might occur.


The ambition of the educational department is to connect perception with analysis. To make the children more aware of how rich perception is and can be. And then to improve their analytical skills when dealing with images and objects. Our main target groups are primary and secondary schools (school attending children from 6 to 17 years of age), language schools, colleges of education.


In the museum the class will meet an educator who has a more specialized knowledge than the teacher, thus opening up for approaches and angles that give new insights. Most of the educators are studying art history or they attend colleges of education with a keen interest in art.


The structure of a school visit:

A visit starts with a welcome and a presentation (a second type of framing attention). Laying out the elements of what the class is going to do:

  • looking

  • description, questions, answers, starting the dialogue

  • sketching, writing, analysis

  • interpretation

These four “levels” may not evolve as a progression “going further and deeper”. The dialogue may jolt the different modes of attention, criss-crossing between the “levels”. A sudden remark from a pupil may disturb your preconceived plan in the most interesting of ways)


About the dialogue:

Our education is based on dialogue is is organised to motivate the student to participate actively. Thus, we perceive the dialogue as:

  • A dynamic tool for understanding

  • A co-operation between educator and class

  • A way to turn the student from passive listener to active participant

  • Means to stimulate the pupils to perceive and sense, to think in an analytical and critical way

  • A way to harvest the fruits of the fellow pupils, learn form each other

Dialogue synchronizes the class; we stay in tune, attentive to the same aspects. It also gives feedback to the educator, lets you know where they are: what do the pupils understand, how do they react towards the works, their appearance, content etc. The feedback allows the educator to direct the flow of questions and themes in certain ways, finding the balance between one-way and two-way communication: how to dose between telling, showing and talking. When to ask questions, when to question their answers, and when to take the dialogue to a new level? Use their answers as foundations for new questions


About the workshop:

We think of workshops as an extension of the visit in the exhibition spaces. They provide an opportunity to elaborate on some of the ideas, themes, “problems” seen in the works. Workshop courses include practical assignments during which students try to mime the working process of the works just experienced. For example, children in Giacometti workshop worked in the same way as Giacometti did. Thus, we try to keep such workshop exercises as narrow and focused as possible; the precision of the exercise (if it is narrow) will take the pupil further. Towards the end of a workshop session the pupils present what they have done and tries to relate it to the artworks discussed in the exhibition. In that way a connection is established between perception and analysis, and between analysis and practice. Each of the pupils also gets a ticket that allows him/her to come back to the museum. They can also bring two guests with them for free.


About “Skoletjenesten” (Education Center)

Educational Department of Louisiana is a part of the Education Centre Copenhagen (Skoletjenesten). Skoletjenesten is an organisation with branches and activities in various types of museums, cultural history, art, and science. Funded by the county and the municipality of Copenhagen “Skoletjenesten” ensures that schools can visit and use museums on a regular basis as a supplement in their education. It is an organisation, where you can exchange ideas and experiences with fellow colleagues, and it is an economical framework that sustains our activities. It ensures continuity and development of the museum’s educational activities.


At the end of the presentation we could emphasise our aims of education department. They are the following:

  • To extend the accessibility of a broader range of audiences.

  • To de-mystify the museum experience.

  • To develop a familiarity with advanced visual expressions.

  • To pass on special knowledge.

  • To develop the critical and analytical skills of the student within the field of modern and contemporary art.


Educational Department Louisiana Museum of Modern Art


Our main target groups are primary and secondary schools (school attending children from 6 to 17 years of age), language schools, colleges of education.


Tuition 1 hour: Free of charge. Offered to all target groups.


Tuition 1½ hour: Including sketching/writing exercises. 300 dkr.


Combined tuition and workshop 2 hours: Including sketching/writing and a practical exercise in the workshop. 600 dkr.


We have a list of the standard topics that we offer at our department. But if a teacher has a specific interest, we are open to their suggestions. These are the topics that we suggest:


Architecture and Permanent collection

The Sculpture Park

Site Specific Art

World Architecture in 7m2 : The Garden House



German Art

Pop Art

Video Art


Alberto Giacometti

Per Kirkeby

Henry Heerup

The Body in Modern Art

Materials in Contemporary Culture


We prepare special written materials to all the new exhibitions. They made in three levels depending on age. So, we try to make them flexible and age dependent. The material is free (the production costs is paid by the Educational Centre Copenhagen). We send it out to the classes as a means for preparation. All our modules are offered to all the target groups. We try not to let money and economics to be a barrier for the teacher and a group to visit a museum. We also have further educational activities for the teachers. We arrange seminars for them to introduce the new exhibitions, and to provide fresh angles on the permanent collection.


More about Louisiana Modern Art Museum:


Other papers read at the conference


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