“The goals of the project Museums as innovation platforms are to find new ways for museums for reaching young people and to strengthen the role of museums as platforms of societal activities.”

The project developed new ways of cooperation between higher education institutions, museums and actors involved in entrepreneurship education.

The goals of the project Museums as innovation platforms are to find new ways for museums for reaching young people and to strengthen the role of museums as platforms of societal activities. The project developed new ways of cooperation between higher education institutions, museums and actors involved in entrepreneurship education.

In addition, the project also aimed at supporting young people’s opportunities to influence society and improving their capacities for working life. The project is coordinated by Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum with Humak University of Applied Sciences as one of the other project actors with The Museum of Technology and Junior Achievement Finland. It is funded by the European Social Fund.

The project target group is young people in their early 20s at the transitional stages of their studies. Another important target group are museum actors and professionals in teaching, counselling and guidance in Finland.

Generating new ideas during one of the project’s innovation courses at The Museum of Technology.  Photo: Jari Nieminen.

From experiments to a workbook: the three stages of the project

“The project consists of three stages.”

The first two stages consisted of testing and developing innovation activities at the museums together with higher education students. In practice, this meant organizing think tanks and innovation courses in the participating museums. The third stage of the project focuses on disseminating the operating models created and tested in the project to other actors within the field of education of young people.

In the think tanks, museums operated as lenses, offering perspectives for considering both the present-day and the future societies. The think tanks consisted of expert talks and workshops in the exhibitions. Altogether, the project has so far arranged four events and innovation courses at the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum, and two at the Museum of Technology.

In the innovation courses, students create innovations to offer solutions to problems they define. First, the students define their problem and target groups, after which they go through different stages of innovation culminating in developing and testing a concrete product or service.

The idea is to find ways with which the museum environment and contents can support innovation processes and enhance innovation skills.

Some of the keywords the students chose as major social issues to which innovations are often linked. In English, the keywords in the picture are: technological opportunities, culture & well-being, social interaction and living. Photo: Jari Nieminen.

Learning from innovation courses and think tanks

During the project, the participating students learn career skills such as advancing ideas with a group, and teamwork skills. Experiencing the innovation process gives the students skills in creativity, project work and managing stress and uncertainty.

The museum environment stimulates creativity and offers perspectives for the work, but also supports group work and interaction between the participants. It became clear during the process that museums can function as platforms and learning environments for innovation.

Examples of student feedback about the innovation courses support our view:

“Innovation is a skill you can practice, not just something only ‘creative people’ can do.”

“The unusual setting [of the courses] fueled my imagination.”

“I got extra boost and inspiration for making innovation at work.”

“At its best, innovation can open new viewpoints to things. There is power in group work!”

Students working at one of the think tanks at Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum. Photo: Jari Nieminen.

In the project, we have created and experimented working methods that help to use museums as learning environments for innovation and career skills. The methods are linked both to finding inspiration, collecting information, generating and developing ideas and finally evaluating them.

The methods developed during the project will be published at the project website (http://www.museoinno.fi/) in an electronic workbook (in Finnish) in September 2019.

Photos: Jari Nieminen, graphic designer, Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum

News has been updated at 18th of September 2019.