Grundtvig Learning Partnership - Zeitgeist 2010-2012

What it is about

EXARC and a number of its members applied in 2010 for a Grundtvig Learning Partnership. Grundtvig was a part of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLLP) of the European Union which among others involves Leonardo and Erasmus. The Grundtvig Programme was focussed on adult education and in our case involves several museums, open-air museums, universities and high schools.
We worked with our partners from across Europe to share practice, discuss problems and compare solutions on our particular topics. Obviously our project was about non-formal learning in different aspects.

While writting an application two projects have been formed: Didarchtik and Zeitgeist.

All applicants were EXARC members, involving in interpretation and education. We also have universities, schools and other organisations working in this field both in our network as well as in this Grundtvig Learning Partnership.

Our type of education and interpretation is very much about hands on experience – the objects and buildings we use are reconstructions; three-dimensional witnesses of local and national heritage which are part of our common European culture. Our type of museums offer a low threshold and therefore we reach all layers of society.

A special tool we have in our education is based on experimental archaeology; showing ancient crafts and letting people try it out themselves engaging them in a very direct manner. This way, history reaches all senses – the ideal starting point for informal learning. Our method is anchored in using staff telling the stories of our items more than written signs and machines. This is a very labour intensive approach, but it is highly appreciated and offers good quality.

Several of our partners already had experience with EU cooperation, we had for example a Culture 2000 project (Delphi, House of Questions), focusing on what people were interested to find out when they visited our museums. We know from our long running visitor surveys that, we have (1) a higher percentage of return visitors (25-30%) and (2) people generally spend more time in our museums than they do in other kinds of museums (2-3 hours). These two challenges offers opportunities which so far are not or little used. Repeat visitors have requirements which we need to explore. This will allow us to develop fitting formats of interpretative activities involving staff and media before, during and after their visit. We for example think of using innovative cross media.


Between August 2010 and July 2012, six organisations cooperate in EXARC under the name Zeitgeist.
This refers to is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age." About 70 times, someone from one of the members in this group will visit another member.

The Zeitgeist partners were: Hunebedcentrum (NL), Coordinator; Archäologisches FreilichtMuseum Oerlinghausen (DE)Archeon (NL)Bronzezeithof Uelsen (DE)Parc Arqueològic de Sant Llorenç de Montgai (ES)Fortidslandsbyen Landa (NO) - they are not member of EXARC anymore.

Our concrete objectives

  • We characterised our adult visitors and their education needs and interests. Understand what visitors expect before arrival, what we intend to teach them and if this culminates in a successful visit.
  • We analysed the usage and possibilities of experimental archaeology & live interpretation.
  • We developed an approach to serve repeated visits.
  • We defined a good offer for 'pre-visit' and 'post-visit' for our public (information and knowledge).
  • We created a long lasting network regarding lifelong learning in archaeological open-air museums.

Results were

  • an on line forum for the members of Zeitgeist
  • an on line visitor survey system, made, used and evaluated
  • a glossary of common terms for archaeological open-air museums in several languages
  • a handbook / reader on the application of new media in archaeological open-air museums, old crafts and reaching & teaching the adult public
  • a handbook / reader on storytelling and adult didactic methods applied to archaeological open-air museums

There were several workshops

  1. 09/2010, the Netherlands: A work meeting to get things right
  2. 01/2011, Catalonia: Workshop of craftspeople. A class on new media and reaching / teaching the public, taken by outside experts. Defining the relevant topics of working with adults of which common terms need to be translated in our languages.
  3. 07/2011, Norway: Class on storytelling for guides, adult didactic methods. Agreement on how to do visitor analysis and use the results in updating our adult didactics. Discussion adult education seen from our visitors, guides, and those not visiting.
  4. 10/2011, the Netherlands: Halfway Project evaluation: is all in time? What about the results? International heritage fair, including living history demonstration, how to get information across: authenticity, being a teacher and an actor all in one.
  5. 02/2012, Germany: Follow up class on new media, about old crafts and reaching & teaching the public. Feedback from partners, follow up on storytelling. Project evaluation: is all well in time? What about the results? Important: joint meeting with the EXARC network.
  6. 07/2012, the Netherlands: Closing meeting, end evaluation. Workshop of craftspeople: craft, demonstration & interpretation

Results from this Project

Title What Author / Responsible for Project Year
An Online Glossary in Ten Languages
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Website: Online Tool Various Didarchtik & Zeitgeist 2012
Manuals on: Adult Public; Old Crafts and Skills; New Media in the Open-Air; Live Interpretation Website: Manual Various Zeitgeist 2012
Manual - Adult Education in Archaeological Open-Air Museums
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PDF Dorothee Olthof Zeitgeist 2012