The educational department at the National Gallery in Copenhagen (Statens Museum for Kunst/SMK) has in a recent outreach project explored how to make the museum relevant for a particular target group, namely newly arrived citizens learning the Danish language.
For the educational staff developing the programme for language learners it was important to work with language in a way that tries to overcome the schism connected to this particular group: having a lot of life experience but a very limited knowledge of their new language.
An example of an exercise from the programme shows how artworks can play a valuable role, representing life experience in a non-verbal way: In front of a surrealistic painting by Danish artist Wilhelm Freddie, the participants are asked to write down in single words what the artwork for them is about, what it makes them think of, and what it does not make them think of. Afterwards the words are discussed in groups, and, following a simple template of sentences, each group perform their findings for the others, almost in the form of a performed poetry reading. In spite of the simplicity of the construction of sentences, the content appear to remain complex, thanks to the artwork and the verbal poetry-like genre implemented.