1st Edition

Designing for the Museum Visitor Experience

By Tiina Roppola Copyright 2012
    336 Pages
    by Routledge

    336 Pages
    by Routledge

    Exhibition environments are enticingly complex spaces: as facilitators of experience; as free-choice learning contexts; as theaters of drama; as encyclopedic warehouses of cultural and natural heritage; as two-, three- and four-dimensional storytellers; as sites for self-actualizing leisure activity. But how much do we really know about the moment-by-moment transactions that comprise the intricate experiences of visitors? To strengthen the disciplinary knowledge base supporting exhibition design, we must understand more about what ‘goes on’ as people engage with the multifaceted communication environments that are contemporary exhibition spaces.

    The in-depth, visitor-centered research underlying this book offers nuanced understandings of the interface between visitors and exhibition environments. Analysis of visitors’ meaning-making accounts shows that the visitor experience is contingent upon four processes: framing, resonating, channeling, and broadening. These processes are distinct, yet mutually influencing. Together they offer an evidence-based conceptual framework for understanding visitors in exhibition spaces. Museum educators, designers, interpreters, curators, researchers, and evaluators will find this framework of value in both daily practice and future planning. Designing for the Museum Visitor Experience provides museum professionals and academics with a fresh vocabulary for understanding what goes on as visitors wander around exhibitions.

    Chapter 1: Envisaging the Discipline  Chapter 2: Exhibition Design as Mediation  Chapter 3: ‘Experience’ in Museums  Chapter 4: Deconstructing Visitor Experience  Chapter 5: Framing  Chapter 6: Resonating  Chapter 7: Channelling  Chapter 8: Broadening  Chapter 9: Design for Exhibition Ecologies


    Tiina Roppola specialises in design-led education as an Assistant Professor at the University of Canberra, Australia, and began her career as an industrial designer. Her doctoral research examined how people make sense of contemporary exhibition spaces. Tiina is recipient of a Design Institute of Australia Award, and an award-winning speaker.


    ‘In Designing for the Museum Visitor Experience, Tiina Roppola eloquently and expertly explores the museum experience, drawing from an inspiring qualitative analysis of extensive visitor interviews. Tiina’s findings certainly "resonate" with my own work in this field and "broaden" our theoretical understanding of the visitor experience.’Jan Packer, University of Queensland, Australia

    'This is an important and timely book, not least because of its very clear recognition of the consequences of the indeterminacies of signification for our engagement with museums and their contents. Roppola offers a sensitive, finely-tuned, and comprehensive account of the actualities of these encounters and their wider contemporary theoretical and social implications.' --Donald Preziosi, University of California Los Angeles, USA

    'It offers a fresh insight on issues up to now usually addressed by museum learning experts or researchers with a learning agenda. Tina Roppola is an expert in visitor experiece having worked for a long time in interpretation and in science communication. Her attempt here is to write from 'inside the visitor experience' with the eyes of an exhibition designer. This, in my view, makes the book an important contribution to professional reflection for several reasons.' - Maria Xanthoudaki, National Museum of Science and Technology, Visitor Studies