A Museum for the Twenty-First Century:
The Influence of ‘Sociality’ on Art Reception in Museum Space
Museum Management and Curatorship, 27(5), December, 1–26, 2012
In recent decades fine art museums have experienced a boom in popularity. This surge is not only reflected by the proliferation of spectacular new museum buildings, but also through a considerable increase in visitors, and, as a result, the significant modification of ‘visitor culture’. These developments require investigation as to how new social situations within the museum environment may influence the perception of artworks. Through the Swiss National Research Project entitled ‘eMotion – mapping museum experience’, we studied the aforementioned social aspects of museum visits in real field conditions, deploying novel methods such as: wireless physiological monitoring, position tracking, electronic surveys, and information cartography. The combination of diverse investigative methods provides insight into the effects of artworks, necessitating alternative strategies for future exhibitions and museum installations. We demonstrate that the social behavior of museum visitors, such as companionship and conversation, have a decisive influence on art reception, which entails consequences for the strategic orientation of museums as sites of experience.