Space, Movement and Attention
Affordances of the Museum Environment
International Journal of Arts Management, Fall 2014 (Vol. 17, no. 1), 4–17, 2014
This article presents results from an in-depth visitor analysis conducted during an exhibition at the St. Gallen Museum of Fine Arts in Switzerland. Using the latest tracking technology, the researchers were able to record the exact positions and movement paths of visitors to the exhibition. Based on the psychological concepts of “valence,” “standing patterns of behaviour” and “affordance,” this is an explorative and descriptive study of the “raw material,” investigating how architectural and curatorial settings influence visitor attention to various artworks and how visitors move within the facilities. The tracking technology revealed visitor streams alongside “space-cells” that were found to influence the rhythmicity of the museum visit. Space-cells can be characterized as reference points attracting visitor attention and producing a “stopping moment” followed by cell-specific movement patterns in relation to the composition of the cell. These results are important for curators, whose staging of exhibitions can influence visitors’ attention and itinerary and, generally, the aesthetic effects of artworks.