Intergenerational learning and examples from Finnish museums

Photo: Finish Museum Association (c)

What is intergenerational learning?

Intergenerational learning is a form of informal learning, which is related to questions of cultural and local identity and social cohesion. According to ENIL (2014), it can be seen as “a learning partnership based on reciprocity and mutuality, involving people of different ages where the generations work together to gain skills, values and knowledge”. 1 

 Intergenerational learning is a form of learning related to cultural and local identity. It is also part of socialization and social cohesion. There is a lot of intergenerational learning over a lifetime, as most of the transfer of expertise gained during a lifetime takes place through it. This happens either consciously or unconsciously. Intergenerational learning can also be seen as a two-way process due to rapid development of technology and communication. This means that also older generations can be learners instead of teachers. Immigration and, as European citizens age, the need to share cultural and professional tacit knowledge has increased the need for intergenerational learning. 2 

Generations in interaction – Intergenerational learning as a constructor of identity and culture project

As one example, the Finnish Museums Association presented the Generations in Interaction – Intergenerational Learning as a Constructor of Identity and Culture (Ge&In) project (

The project is an Erasmus+ partnership project that is implemented between 2018 and 2021. It involves seven partner organisations and is coordinated by the Finnish Citizens’ Forum. Partner organizations represent different areas of adult education. 3

Goal of the Ge&In project is to increase competences and develop relevant tools to support intergenerational learning. Target groups are teachers, facilitators and instructors in the field of liberal and non-formal adult education. Pilot groups worked as a platform for investigating the different processes of IGL. Main principle of the project is to create models which are so concrete that those will easily be reduplicated, applied and disseminated in formal and non-formal education and in in-formal learning sector. Results are disseminated on the project website and blog. Project´s outcomes include a guide to intergenerational learning, a model for an Intergenerational learning center and an online platform, a course and three video animations. 4 

Examples of intergenerational learning in Finnish museums

Finnish Museums Association’s presentation focused on examples of intergenerational learning from Finnish museums. In Finnish museums, intergenerational learning has been implemented for instance in different kinds of workshops that are often related to learning between children and the elderly, while there are fewer examples of learning between adults and the elderly.   

Museum walk in North Karelian museum Hilma (Joensuu, Finland) – workshop

As a first example we presented a workshop that was called “Museum walk”. This workshop was part of a pilot study (conducted as a part of Ge&In project) and master’s thesis research. Workshop was carried out in spring 2019 in Hilma, the North Karelian museum in Joensuu. The workshop was conducted in a museum because it offers visitors the opportunity for identity construction by identifying themselves and distinguishing themselves from the cultures, identities and phenomena presented. 5 

The aim of the study was to explore what kind of potential learning instances occur when an intergenerational group is asked to visit a museum exhibition together and talk about what they see and experience.  Workshop was attended by 17 people whose age of birth ranged from 1944 to 2012. Participants were divided into different groups and asked to discuss what they see and experience in the exhibition. Museum walks resulted in various examples of intergenerational learning, such as memories of past experiences, explanations of personal history (e.g. family background) and humorous comments and stories. 6 

Our communication past, present and future workshop (Forssa Museum)

As another example of intergenerational learning, we presented a workshop that was part of Museums as Media Educators project. The joint project between Finnish Museums Association and the Association of Cultural Heritage was carried out in 2013-2016 and aimed to establish the status of museums as media educators. Workshop was organized at Forssa Museum in cooperation with a local preschool. Workshop was attended by children of the preschool and their grandparents and it included a pre-assignment and two visits to museum. At the museum grandparents and children toured the exhibition together and discussed about communication and media in the past and present.  

As a result of the workshop, it was discovered that both children and grandparents gained new perspectives: children learnt about the old communication devices in their own or grandparents’ home and grandparents learned about how their grandchildren use modern devices.  

Our customs and culture past, present and future workshop (Salla Museum of War and Reconstruction)

As a third example is a workshop organized at the Salla Museum of War and Reconstruction with a local school and local senior´s association. The workshop was also part of the previously mentioned Museums as Media Educators (2013-2016) project. The workshop included a pre-assignment in which children developed questions for seniors on various topics such as fishing and hunting, war time, cooking and communication.  

School children and seniors visited the museum together in groups of three (two children and one senior). Children interviewed the seniors about customs in the past and discussed them in present and future. Children recorded the interviews with iPads. After the workshop and during class children edited the recordings into digital stories. Children and seniors met again at the museum and watched the digital stories together. One of the results of the workshop was that children learned how to use iPads. They also learned about local history and old customs.  

From one professional to another workshop (Hotel and Restaurant Museum)

The fourth workshop was organized by the Hotel and Restaurant Museum in Helsinki. From one professional to another workshops were developed by the Hotel and Restaurant Museum to discuss the dimensions of professionalism across generational boundaries. In the workshop museum collections and audience development meet working life experts. Workshop brought together professionals of different generations to the museum to discuss and share knowledge from their own field between generations. The purpose was to strengthen professional identities and to support professional empowerment. 7 

Workshop’s target audience was vocational students, experts currently in working life, retired professionals and museum staff. Workshops resulted in various observations. The most important lesson was that there´s a great the need for discussion between different generations of professionals. Especially those who are working and retired were excited about the opportunity to share their own skills and reflect on the development of their field in recent decades together with students. Many of the students may not have felt a great need to study the history of their field before, but after attending the workshops their awareness of history increased and enthusiasm for listening to stories was tangible. The museum also received new additions to its collections when the work history of the participants was documented and stored in the museum, for example in the form of work certificates. 8 

Workshop Zagreb training   

Workshop consisted of watching videos produced by the Ge&In project, followed by a short reflection and brainstorming session on the topic. The topics of the workshop were:  

  • What is intergeneration learning?  
  • What are the challenges in intergenerational learning and how to tackle them  
  • Possibilities of intergenerational learning & creative making  

First the participants watched a video called Core concepts of intergenerational learning ( .

After watching the video, participants shared their experiences on Conceptboard platform. The task was to describe intergenerational learning in one or two words. Among other things, the following emerged:  

”Transferring skills, understanding, participation, informal, reciprocal, being social, communication, gaps solving, understanding, challenge for the museum, new perspectives for participants but also for museum mediation”  

Next the participants were asked to think about challenges in intergenerational learning and how to tackle them. Before the reflection task, participants were shown another video, The Shadows of Intergenerational Learning (

After the video, participants were asked to share on Conceptboard their own experiences of challenges they have faced in personal or professional life when people from different generations meet or interact as well as think of ways to overcome these challenges. 

The third topic considered the possibilities of intergenerational learning and how it could be connected to creative making. We asked the participants to brainstorm and create a workshop for an imaginary group of people living in a same apartment building where they need to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their building. Goal was to create a workshop where different generations will learn from each other and everyone’s skills are utilized. Before we started the brainstorming session, participants were shown a third video called Learning from the future ( The participants came up with many creative ideas for a workshop, for example building a recycling station or a “take what you need” – room.

Finnish Museums Association held a presentation and a workshop on intergenerational learning during CREMA project virtual training session in December. Topic of the presentation was intergenerational learning and examples from Finnish museums. The workshop focused on intergenerational learning from three different perspectives. This article is a summary of the presentation and the results of the workshop.   

References; Hankkeet; Generations in Interaction (Ge&In); Kahdensuuntainen sukupolvien välinen oppiminen hankkeen keskiössä. 

Kirjonen Aino 28.5.2020: Museo ammattiosaamisen foorumina. Museopro.

Vukovič Mojca, Mile Anca, Piłat Aleksandra (Ed.) 2020: Generations in interaction, a guide to Intergenerational Learning. Kansalaisfoorumi. 

1  Vukovič, Mile, Pilat 2020, 5.

2; Hankkeet; Generations in Interaction (Ge&In) 

3; Hankkeet; Generations in Interaction (Ge&In) 

4; Hankkeet; Generations in Interaction (Ge&In) 

5  Vukovič, Mile, Pilat 2020, 29. 

6  Vukovič, Mile, Pilat 2020, 29. 

7  Kirjonen 28.5.2020.

8  Kirjonen 28.5.2020.

Written by Pauliina Kinanen and Emilia Merisalo from Suomen Museoliitto, Finland

Article republished from 
Since October, 2019 Radiona – Zagreb Makerspace is part of the CREMA or CREative MAking for Lifelong Learning.
CREMA is 3 year ERASMUS+ project (2019 – 2022).