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The extended museum visit: documenting and exhibiting post-visit experiences
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Numerical Analysis and Computer Science, NADA.
2005 (English)In: Museums and the Web 2005: Proceedings, 13-16 April 2005, Vancouver, Canada. / [ed] J. Trant and D. Bearman, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics , 2005Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

During the last couple of decades, a growing body of research has provided insights into the complex processes of learning that take place in museums. Interestingly, museum-related learning is not limited to the actual visit: what takes place before and afterwards has a profound effect on the learning outcome. The study presented in this paper focuses on the post-visit aspects of the learning process.

Previous research shows that visitors make connections between their experiences in the museum and experiences that happen after the visit. Sometimes these connections can occur weeks or months (or even years) after the visit, depending on when the visitor happens upon a situation that allows the connection to be made.

Documenting these events is obviously quite difficult. Even though it is possible to re-establish contact with visitors after a few weeks or months (e.g., through telephone or e-mail), the information obtained is not in situ. The goal of the present study is to attempt to acquire and analyze more data from these in situ situations, and to re-present the data in an exhibition. To this end, we have designed a system that allows visitors to send images and text messages to a central server through e-mail, SMS or MMS. The data from the server can then be visualized as a weblog (blog) or in some other suitable form.

We collaborated with the Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. A large part of the Museum's Science Centre is devoted to five mechanical principles: the screw, the plane slope, the lever, the wheel and the wedge. We have designed an exhibit that utilizes our system to present messages (images and text) from visitors on the subject of the five principles in the science centre itself. It is also possible to access the messages through a public Web page.

From the Museum's perspective, our exhibit not only provides new opportunities for documenting post-visit learning processes, but also has the potential to provide new forms of evaluation data that might be difficult to obtain through other means. Furthermore, it allows Museum visitors to extend the original scope of the mechanical principles exhibition by allowing them to provide their own content (and reflections upon the existing content),  a re-occurring theme in many recent technology-based exhibits.

The paper provides a description of our system, the exhibit we have built, how the exhibit is managed, and how it has worked in practice.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics , 2005.
Keyword [en]
Learning, Visitor contributions, Post-visit experiences, Design.
National Category
Information Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24935OAI: diva2:354565
QC 20101004Available from: 2010-10-04 Created: 2010-10-04 Last updated: 2010-10-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Participatory Design in Museums: Visitor-Oriented Perspectives on Exhibition Design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Participatory Design in Museums: Visitor-Oriented Perspectives on Exhibition Design
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is about the design of technology for museum exhibitions. More specifically, it explores different ways in which visitors can contribute to museum exhibition design and how technology can support learning-related activities within museum exhibitions.

Most contemporary museums collect, preserve, and provide access to important cultural and historical artefacts with the explicit intention of educating and informing the general public about those artefacts. For many exhibition designers, the audience's encounter with the exhibition is of primary concern, and technology is often seen as a means for providing visitors with new experiences and opportunities for learning. However, it appears to be only very recently that researchers have begun to show an interest in how modern technology is actually being used by visitors and many museums are struggling in their efforts to incorporate new technologies in their established exhibition design practices.

Thus, on the one hand, many museums are seeking more visitor-focused ways of carrying out design (with the help of, for example, different forms of evaluation or feedback). On the other hand, many museums seem to have limited experience with designing technology in a user-oriented fashion. Consequently, human-computer interaction, with its long tradition of involving users in design, is in a position to provide museums with new ways for audiences to contribute to exhibitions with their knowledge, experience, opinions, and desires. The papers in this thesis explore this topic through a number of case studies where visitors have been invited to contribute to the design and evaluation of exhibitions. The analysis of the results suggests that visitors can provide relevant contributions in all of the main phases of museum exhibition production.

This thesis also addresses the issue of how technology can support learning-related activities in museums. It appears that many museums base their notion of learning on epistemologies which suggest that activities such as interpretation, communication, and collaboration are fundamental to most museum learning processes. Consequently, the papers in this thesis explore a number of different techniques for supporting and orchestrating such social activities. The result is a set of design approaches that has the ability to encourage collaboration and dialogue between co-present visitors and allow visitors to create dynamic and evolving contexts for existing exhibits.

In summary, the contributions of this thesis explore museum exhibition design from two different, yet interrelated perspectives. From the first perspective, visitors' desires, wishes, experiences, and knowledge are seen as important contributions to museum exhibition design. From the second perspective, different social activities and relationships between visitors in museums become the focus of the design activities. Together, these two perspectives outline an approach to museum exhibition design where visitors are of primary concern, both with respect to the content presented in exhibitions and with respect to the way exhibitions orchestrate and support different forms of social interaction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2005. x, 77 p.
Trita-NA, ISSN 0348-2952 ; 0516
Människa-dator-interaktion, Museums, Participtory Design, Technology, Människa-dator-interaktion
National Category
Information Science
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-221 (URN)91-7178-082-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-06-03, E1, Lindstedtsvägen 3, Stockholm, 10:00
QC 20101004Available from: 2005-05-25 Created: 2005-05-25 Last updated: 2010-10-04Bibliographically approved

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