The Scottish Executive move follows a national audit of museums and galleries which reported that only 33 per cent of museums create exhibitions which link to the Scottish school curriculum.
"The challenge is to bridge the gap between the great potential for learning through museums and the actual provision which is being currently offered."
Mike Watson, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, wants museums and galleries to play a greater part in the Executive's social and economic agenda, which means widening educational access.
The audit discovered, however, that "under-capacity is having an adverse effect on the sector's ability to develop and deliver effective community and educational programmes which is a key weakness".
The Scottish Museums Council, which represents 205 of the 400 museums and galleries, welcomed the challenge of "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to address the shortcomings before a framework for action is drawn up next spring.
The museums were given a heavyweight hint to improve school links last October by Douglas Osler, head of the inspectorate. They were advised to change their approach radically and to make more use of digital technology to focus on children's learning.
Mr Osler questioned the value of the annual school trip and suggested online approaches could be one way forward. He also urged museums to link more closely with educational bodies such as Learning and Teaching Scotland.