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Jurassic motivations

In Museums, what i'm reading on September 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

We had a great meeting of the King’s College London museums reading group yesterday. It’s a forum where academics working in social aspects of museums studies – and educational theory – get together with professionals from the museum sector and discuss the latest papers relating to our work and research. We take a different topic each time – this latest gathering was devoted to four studies of motivations amongst museum visitors.

We read:
The effect of visitors’ agenda on museum learning (Falk, Moussouri, Coulson, 1998) – still one of the most quoted papers on motivational theory. Breaks down the idea that education and entertainment are not indeed opposite ends of the visiting spectrum, but are actually continua which run in parallel.

Motivational factors and the visitor experience: a comparison of three sites (Packer, Ballantyne, 2002) – an Australian study which moves on to the next step and calls for ‘a common theoretical foundation for interpretation in museum other informal learning settings’.

Personality and motivation in visitor satisfaction (Yalowitzm 2002) – a PhD summary comparing cognitive and sensory needs and experiences in three Coloardo visitor attractions.

Accessing and incorporating visitors’ entrance narratives enchances guided museum tours (Tsybluskaya, Dodick, Camhi, 2009) – a great piece of research looking at getting museums visitors talking about a subject before they encounter it, in order that a guided tour might dwell on their expectations.

We talked around these and other pieces of research and ended up looking at examples of museum practice which take us out of our comfort zone – which challenge not only our motivations, but also our expectations of a visit. I’m so pleased we got to discuss the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, a long time favourite of mine where the very notion of  a museum is broken down. I’ve flicked through the guide book again this morning and I still don’t really understand what it’s all about. It’s just brilliant.

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