The Choreography of the Museum Experience: Visitors’ Designs for Learning

By Sophia Diamantopoulou and Dimitra Christidou.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: May 19, 2016 $US5.00

This paper acknowledges the multimodal and social nature of the museum experience. In this paper, we advocate the view that, within this multimodal frame, visitors are agents of their own design for learning as they engage with the exhibition and each other, redesigning the stories told by the curators. Audio-visual data from two individual projects in the UK illustrate the multimodal, embodied and social nature of the museum experience, which is often assumed to be ocularcentric and logocentric, and suggest that visitors learn by constantly making selections and transformations of the exhibition design, based on their own interests and responses to the various prompts emerging in and through social interaction. As such, the data analysis foregrounds the modes of movement, gaze, deixis and posture, which, alongside speech, are integral elements of the learning experience. Shifting our research focus on visitors’ redesigns of the exhibition poses a challenge to the curatorial design and has implications for exhibition-makers as it calls into question the assumptions of what should be learned and why, as well as how the resources in the exhibition space should be organised.

Keywords: Museums, Multimodality, Designs For Learning, Visitors, Social Interaction

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 11, Issue 3, September, 2016, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: May 19, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 833.229KB)).

Sophia Diamantopoulou

PhD Student, Department of Culture, Communication and Media, Faculty of Children and Learning, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK

Dr. Dimitra Christidou

Researcher and Project Manager, The Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity, Östersund, Sweden