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The Museum Experience
par John H. Falk, Lynn Dierking, John H. Falk
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As the first book to take a "visitor's eye view" of the museum visit, The Museum Experience revolutionized the way museum professionals understand their constituents. Falk and Dierking integrate their original research from a wide variety of disciplines as well as visitor studies from institutions ranging from science centers and zoos to art and natural history museums. Written in clear, non-technical style, The Museum Experience paints a thorough picture of why people go to museums, what they do there, how they learn, and what museum practitioners can do to enhance these experiences. This book is an essential reference for all museum professionals and students of museum studies, and has been used widely for higher education courses in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., and has been translated into Japanese and Chinese. Originally published in 1992, the book is now available from Left Coast Press, Inc. as of November 2010.
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Classification décimale de Melvil (CDD)069.15 — Information Organizations Museums Founding; Educational activity; Cooperation Museum instruction
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Big idea: The museum experience is a synthesis of personal, social, and physical contexts that is continuously constructed by each visitor.
Strength: Readable compilation of visitor and learning research with many practical applications for museum professionals. Good annotated bibliography.
Weakness: Content neutral; fails to capture the spirit of the museum experience.
Key concepts: * Research data indicates that family groups are attempting to be model museum visitors but that they are frequently disoriented, overwhelmed by the quantity and level of material, and desperately trying to personalize the information they are processing, all within the context of the social interaction of the group. * Most people deal with information, particularly new information, in a concrete way; museums are uniquely suited to capitalize on this capacity. * Museum exhibits are often designed to convey abstract notions. This is an admirable goal but at the same time exhibits and labels would be more effective if they conveyed concrete information first. * The visitor’s view is not reductionist, compartmentalizing the museum in intellectual disciplines or exhibit galleries. The visitor’s perspective is that of a consumer of leisure-time activities. * Museum visitors do not catalog visual memories of objects and labels in academic, conceptual schemes, but assimilate events and observations in mental categories of personal significance and character, determined by events in their lives before and after the museum visit. * To make exhibits that facilitate learning, museum professionals should begin the exhibit design process by thinking about how the visitor might use the knowledge presented rather than thinking about what objects to display or what ideas to present.
Contents: Before the visit; during the visit; the museum visit remembered; a professional's guide to the museum experience.
- David P ( )