Skipping a step : understanding the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren in the art museum
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This grounded theory research study focuses on the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren in the art museum. As the older adult population continues to grow in number, the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren has been increasingly studied in many academic fields (Mueller, Wilhelm, & Elder, 2002; Timonen & Arber, 2012), however, it has yet to be extensively addressed within the scope of the art museum (Sterry & Beaumont, 2005). Guiding questions that asked what grandparents and grandchildren said about how being in the art museum affects their relationship, as well as what these responses mean for museum educators when implementing museum educational resources directed this study. This research study had three phases. The first phase occurred at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas. Four grandparent/grandchild participant groups interacted with the museum space without any intervention. I gathered observational and interview data from the visit in the form of transcriptions and field notes. The second phase centered on the creation of a self-guided activity pack based on the stated and unstated goals of the grandparent and grandchildren participants that I uncovered during the first visit. The third phase focused on the participant groups using the self-guide activity pack, again at the McNay Art Museum, and culminated the study. The three findings from the data are: (1) grandparents want a way to connect with their grandchildren, (2) grandparents and grandchildren want to have fun together, and (3) art is a means to an end of relationship building in the art museum. Following the grounded theory methodology, I produce a substantive theory based in the four participant groups that reflects the findings. From this theory, I also propose a set of possible best practices for art museum educators to use in their institutions to serve grandparents and grandchildren.