Karen Knutson

Research web site

Karen Knutson

Associate Director, UPCLOSE

Knutson, K., Okada, T., & Crowley, K. (Eds.). (2020). Multidisciplinary approaches to art learning and creativity: Fostering artistic exploration in formal and informal settings. Routledge.

Knutson, K., Crowley, K., Russell, J.L., & Steiner, M.A. (2020). Approaching art education as an ecology: Exploring the role of museums. Karen Knutson, Takeshi Okada, Kevin Crowley (Eds.), Multidisciplinary approaches to art learning and creativity. (pp.218-231). Routledge.

Knutson, K. & Crowley, K. (2016). Collaborating across the university/informal boundary: Broader impacts through informal science education. In L. Avraamidou & W.-M. Roth (Eds.), Intersections of formal and informal science. New York, NY: Routledge.

Crowley, K., Barron, B. J., Knutson, K., & Martin, C. (2015). Interest and the development of pathways to science. In Interest in Mathematics and Science Learning and Related Activity. In K. A. Renninger, M. Nieswandt, and S. Hidi (Eds.). Washington DC: AERA.

Crowley, K., Pierroux, P., & Knutson, K. (2014). The museum as learning environment. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Handbook of the Learning Sciences, 2nd Edition.

Russell, J., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2013). Informal Learning Organizations as Part of an Educational Ecology: Lessons from Collaboration Across the Formal/Informal Divide. Journal of Educational Change, 14(3), 259-281.

Russell, J. L., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2013). Collaborations bridging the formal-informal divide in an urban educational ecology. Journal of Educational Change.

Knutson, K. (2013). Exploring art and history at the Warhol Museum using a Timeweb. In K. Drotner, and K. Schroeder (Eds.) The connected museum: Social media and museum communication. London: Routledge.

Giarrantani, L., Parikh, A., DiSalvo, B., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2011). Click!: Pre-teen girls and a mixed reality role playing game for science and technology. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 3.6, 121-138.

Knutson, K, Crowley, K, Russell, J, Steiner, M. (2011). Approaching art education as an ecology: Exploring the role of museums. Studies in Art Education. 52.4, 326-338.

Knutson, K. & Crowley K. (2011). Construindo uma ponte entre Museus e Visitantes. Bienal do Mercosul. Mediaçao traçando o territorio. Porto Allegre, 43-45. Portuguese translation of: Knutson, K. & Crowley, K. (2006). Bridging the gap between museums and visitors. Visitor Studies Today, 9 (3): 16-17.

Luke, J., & Knutson, K. (2010). Beyond science: Implications of the LSIE report for art museum education. Curator, 53(2), 229-237.

Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2010). Connecting with art: How families talk about art in a museum setting. In M. K. Stein & L. Kucan (Eds.), Instructional explanations in the disciplines. New York: Springer.

Sanford, C., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2007). "We Always Spend Time Together on Sundays": How Grandparents and Their Grandchildren Think About and Use Informal Learning Spaces. Visitor Studies, 10(2), 136-151.

Leinhardt, G., & Knutson, K. (2006). Grandparents speak: Museum conversations across the generations. Curator, 49(2), 235-252.

Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2006). Bridging the gap between museums and visitors: A response to Meszaros's 'The evil "Whatever" interpretation.' Visitor Studies Today, 9(3), 16-17.

Leinhardt, G., & Knutson, K. (2004). Listening in on Museum Conversations. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

Leinhardt, G., Tittle, C., & Knutson, K. (2002). Talking to oneself: Diaries of museum visits. In G. Leinhardt, K. Crowley, & K. Knutson (Eds.), Learning conversations in museums (pp. 103 - 134). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Knutson, K. (2002). Creating a space for Learning: Curators, educators and the implied audience. In Leinhardt, G., Crowley, K., & Knutson, K. (Eds.). Learning Conversations in Museums. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Leinhardt, G., Crowley, K., & Knutson, K. (Eds.) (2002). Learning conversations in museums. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Pittwire article "Research Team Sparks Community Conversation about Climate Change, "features the community outreach of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out of School Environments (UPCLOSE) Director Kevin Crowley, Associate Director Karen Knutson, research associate Mary Ann Steiner, and undergrad anthropology team member Sean Barill.

March 2, 2020


The Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation has awarded nearly $1.6 million to renew the Informal Learning Initiative, a two-year collaboration of organizations that includes the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE).

September 4, 2019


Kevin Crowley, Karen Knutson, and their collaborators at the Carnegie Museum of have been awarded a grant from the Spencer Foundation for their project " The 21st Century Naturalist: A Research-practice Collaboration for Informal Science Education." The grant will expand their joint work on bringing museum resources to the public in informal learning environments and develop new nature-based learning opportunities.

February 2016


Board member, Visitor Studies Association


Presentation to panel on the Future of Libraries and Museums in the 21st Century. at the National Academies, Expertise and experience: Museums, a place for talk.


Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS)

Presentation to the Board of Informal Science Education at the National Academies, Perspectives on research on learning in informal environments.


National Research Council

Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award, Association of Science and Technology Centers award for innovative professional practice for the UPCLOSE partnership with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.


Met Life Promising Practice award from the Association of Children's Museums, for innovative business practices, awarded to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and UPCLOSE


Co-Chair, Visitor Studies Association Annual Conference


Co-chair Division C4b Out of School Learning Environments, annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association