A more detailed look at the things I’ve read and reference…

Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean, 1945- The educational role of the museum (2nd ed). Routledge,
London ; New York, 1999.

This introduced me to the idea of a “feedback loop.” Museums must be able to receive feedback from visitors and the museum must be able to implement that feedback. However, the back-of-house feedback loop isn’t easy when you have multiple departments and people generating a message for one exhibit. 

edited by Gail Anderson. Reinventing The Museum : Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Paradigm Shift. Walnut Creek, Calif. :AltaMira Press, 2004. Print.

A collection of essays about Museums. Judy Rands essay entitled “the Visitors’ Bill of Rights” breaks down the needs of a museum visitor to comfort, orientation, welcome, enjoyment, socializing, respect, communication, learning, choice and control, challenge and confidence, and revitalization.

Bourdieu, Pierre, Alain Darbel, and Dominique Schnapper. The Love of Art: European Art Museums and Their Public. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1990. Print.

Bourdieu conducted a study where he watched different groups of people move through a museum space and their ability to interpret art. The main takeaway I pulled from this study was Bourdieu’s realization that it’s the museums job to make visitors feel they have the “right to be uninformed.”

Brieber, David et al. “Art in Time and Space: Context Modulates the Relation between
Art Experience and Viewing Time.” Ed. Luis M. Martinez. PLoS ONE 9.6 (2014): e99019.
PMC. Web. 3 Oct. 2018.

Taken from the abstract: “Two groups of participants viewed an art exhibition in one of two contexts: one in the museum, the other in the laboratory. In both cases viewing time was recorded with a mobile eye tracking system. After freely viewing the exhibition, participants rated each artwork on liking, interest, understanding, and ambiguity scales. Our results show that participants in the museum context liked artworks more, found them more interesting, and viewed them longer than those in the laboratory.”

Carbon, Claus-Christian. “Art Perception in the Museum: How We Spend Time and Space in Art Exhibitions.” i-Perception 8.1 (2017): 2041669517694184. PMC. Web. 3 Oct. 2018.

Taken from abstract: ” The mean time taken in viewing artworks was much longer than was mostly realized in lab contexts, here 32.9 s (Mdn = 25.4 s). We were also able to replicate visitors spending more time on viewing artworks when attending in groups of people. Additionally, we uncovered a close positive relationship (r2 = .929) between canvas size and viewing distance, ranging on average between 1.49 and 2.12 m (M = 1.72 m). We also found that more than half of the visitors returned to paintings, especially those people who had not previously paid too much attention at the initial viewing. After adding the times of returning viewers, each picture was viewed longer than had been estimated in previous research (M = 50.5 s, Mdn = 43.0 s).”

Cartwright, James. “Can Designers Create Work Without Any Visuals?” Eye on Design,
12 June 2017,

Interesting article that analyzes different approaches to wayfinding.

Dorsett, C. (2011) ‘Things and Theories: the unstable presence of exhibited objects’, in Dudley, S., Barnes, A. J., Binnie, J., Petrov, J., & Walklate, J. (eds) The Thing about Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation, London and New York: Routledge.

An artists/curators analysis of their own exhibit. 

Falk, John & Dierking, Lynn. (2000). Learning From Museums: Visitor Experiences and the Making of Meaning.

Falk generated the 5 types of museum goers: the explorer, facilitator, professional/hobbyist, experience seeker, and the recharger.

Gernot Gerger, Helmut Leder, Alexandra Kremer
Context effects on emotional and aesthetic evaluations of artworks and IAPS pictures
Acta Psychologica, Volume 151, 2014, pp. 174-183

From the abstract: “In line with the assumption that emotional distancing is an essential feature of the art experience we found that positive emotional reactions were attenuated (joy, M. zygomaticus activation) in an art compared to non-art context. However, context had little influence on negative emotional reactions (anger, disgust, fear, sadness, shame, and M. corrugator activation) suggesting that these are similar in art and non-art. Importantly, only artworks of emotionally negative content were judged more positively in an art context – thus liked more. This study, in accordance with the assumption of a distanced aesthetic mode, shows that an art context fosters appraisal processes that influence emotional experiences, allowing to judge negative stimuli aesthetically more positively – thus suppressing the immediacy of emotional stimulus content.”

Gary L. Geissler PhD, Conway T. Rucks DBA & Steve W. Edison PhD (2006)
Understanding the Role of Service Convenience in Art Museum Marketing:
An Exploratory Study, Journal of Hospitality & Leisure Marketing,
14:4, 69-87, DOI: 10.1300/J150v14n04_05

From the abstract: “Four focus group discussions were conducted among art museum visitors. The findings suggest that various factors influence decision, access, and transaction convenience, which, in turn, influence the overall perceptions of service convenience.”

Sandell, Richard. University of Leicester, 2003,

From introduction: “A growing body of research into the social role and impact of museums suggests that engagement with the concepts of social inclusion and exclusion will require museums – and the profession and sector as a whole – to radically rethink their purposes and goals and to renegotiate their relationship to, and role within, society. In short, if museums are to become effective agents for social inclusion, a paradigmatic shift in the purpose and role of museums in society, and concomitant changes in working practices, will be required.”

Serrell, Beverly. Making Exhibit Labels: A Step-by-Step Guide. , 1983. Print.

Serrell’s first book which details how to make an exhibit label, from content writing to design. 

Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 1996. Print.

A more analytical, second addition to her first book. This book poses more thought into the role of content and interpretation in a museum setting.

Serrell, B. (1997), Paying Attention: The Duration and Allocation of Visitors’ Time in Museum Exhibitions. Curator: The Museum Journal, 40: 108-125. doi:10.1111/j.2151-6952.1997.tb01292.x

From the abstract: “Patterns of visitor behavior found in many of the study sites included: (1) visitors typically spend less than 20 minutes in exhibitions, regardless of the topic or size; (2) the majority of visitors are not “diligent visitors”—those who stop at more than half of the available elements; (3) on average, visitors use exhibitions at a rate of 200 to 400 square feet per minute; and (4) visitors typically spend less time per unit area in larger exhibitions and diorama halls than in smaller or nondiorama exhibitions.”

Simon, Nina. “The Participatory Musem.”
The Participatory Museum, 2010,

Simon’s book on the importance of participation in learning. It details strategies and examples of how museums can allow for more visitor participation.

Wilson, Lauren. “Museum Visitors Self-Efficacy and Interest in Contemporary Art.” 

Wilson’s 2015 master’s thesis in which she analyzed visitor’s level of interpretation with contemporary art. She showed art with and without labels and analyzed the results.