Reshaping Student Learning


Authentic arts experiences in the Gallery context play an important role in students’ learning. The Learning team has been building a solid platform of Q&A programs over the past 18 months where secondary students can question and inquire about the Gallery’s contemporary art collection and major exhibitions in an open mic format.

More than 320 students from metropolitan and regional schools have joined in the Q&A conversation about exhibitions such as ‘APT8’, ‘Cindy Sherman’ and ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’. Students find a deeper connection with the artworks because they are able to learn through their own lenses in a relaxed peer-based setting.

It was really great to hear the enthusiasm and interaction through the students’ questions. There was a good mix of discussion about the art, artists and the curation of the exhibition. [Teacher, Yeronga State High School, Brisbane]

Student-led, the program model provides opportunities for secondary students to research, develop and submit their own question to a curator. It encourages students to delve deep into the exhibition themes and artworks, seek out behind-the-scenes insights and get into the head space of the guest curator, who at times feel like they are the one being ‘tested’.

Congratulations to the curator for answering and presenting so well. Students loved it. [Teacher feedback, ‘Sugar Spin’ Q&A]

Thoughtful questions and really relaxed vibe that seemed to get the kids inspired. It gave the students an insight to the artworks. [Teacher, James Nash State High School, Gympie]

A student poses a question to Curatorial Manager of International Art, Geraldine Barlow, during the ‘Sugar Spin’ Q&A Program
‘Sugar Spin’ curator and guest presenter Geraldine Barlow meets Brisbane Grammar School students at the ‘Sugar Spin’ Q&A Program
Presenters at the ‘Sugar Spin’ Q&A Program, Terry Deen and Geraldine Barlow
Presenters address a question during the ‘Cindy Sherman’ Q&A Program
A secondary student poses a question during the ‘Cindy Sherman’ Q&A Program

The Q&A programs reinforce the valuable role curators play in enhancing students’ arts learning. Some audience members reflected on what they enjoyed most about their Q&A experience:

  • Ambiguity is something that captures the attention of the viewer, allowing them to create their own perception and meaning
  • That it is okay if someone doesn’t understand your artwork straight away. The meaning can be hidden
  • Seeing how the artworks emotionally affected other students
  • Learning about the artist and what her intentions are behind her work
  • Hearing the answers to well thought questions
  • Having the opportunity to freely ask questions

The next Q&A programs for secondary schools are scheduled on Tuesday 9 May 2017 for ‘O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism’ and Friday 2 June 2017 for ‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’.

Bookings are essential. Contact us at

Watch our Q&A programs from past exhibitions.

Melina Mallos, Program Officer, Education & Curriculum Programs , QAGOMA Learning

Debbie Brittain, Education Services Officer , QAGOMA Learning