A review of visitor (empirical) studies
Curator – The Museum Journal, 55/4, October, 2012
This article reviews empirically oriented studies from the United States and Europe concerning visitor experiences in museum exhibitions in order to pinpoint similarities and differences among them. In the last 20 years, only a few scholars have tackled this research question in multifaceted empirical ways, although some of them have done so extensively. By comparing theoretical and methodical issues, as well as important results, we are able to outline several analytical building blocks that compose a complex framework of visitor expectations, experiences, and outcomes. Gathering credible data on experiences of visitors in exhibitions or museums, a method dating back to the tracking records of Robinson (1928), is an ongoing challenge for the empirically inclined science of museum studies. Social scientists at universities and museums have been asking for 20 years: What are the findings regarding factors, structures, and consequences of exhibition experiences? Where are the blind spots? Which questions should be researched?