Visual Thinking Strategies is the result of more than fifteen years of collaboration between cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen, veteran museum educator Philip Yenawine, and their colleagues. As Director of Education at The Museum of Modern Art from 1983-1993, Yenawine was primarily concerned with making museum education programs more effective. His research introduced him to the work of Abigail Housen in 1988.
Housen, a Harvard-trained educator and psychologist, conducted empirical research exploring how viewers, experienced and novice, think when looking at art objects. The culmination of her many years of study, Housen's Theory of Aesthetic Development, identifies five distinct patterns of thinking that correlate to the amount of exposure subjects have had to art. This research became the core of VTS.
VUE, a non-profit organization, was formed in 1995. VUE's mission would be to test and implement Visual Thinking Strategies throughout the United States and abroad in urban and rural settings, with students who struggle to learn; and across languages and cultures. Today VTS is used in dozens of schools across the country and Europe. Our research continues to confirm that VTS is an effective means of developing critical thinking and communication skills with every demographic.