Museum Mondays: Mapping Museum Experience
On October 26, 2012, The New York Times reported the results of a scientific study on the museum-going experience of 576 adults who visited Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum St. Gallen during June to August 2009. Martin Tröndle and his transdisciplinary team of researchers in sociology, psychology, art theory, curatorial practice, and museum visitor studies set out to understand the “art-affected state” — how the museum’s environment influences a visitor’s subconsciousness and emotional reactions to art as well as the psychological effects on their behavior. Dorothy Spears writes in the article:
Among Mr. Tröndle’s more surprising conclusions was that there appeared to be little difference in engagement between visitors with a proficient knowledge of art and “people who are engineers and dentists,” he said, adding that artists, critics and museum directors often walk into the middle of an exhibition space, scan it and then maybe look at one work before continuing on, while visitors with moderate curiosity and interest tend to move diligently from work to work and read text panels.
“We could almost say that knowledge is making you ignorant,” he said.
Interestingly, art perception and movement through the museum differs depending on a visitor’s educational background. An artistic (or aesthetic) result noted on the website is that “The more attention a work accumulates over the week, the more intense the representation becomes. The less a work is observed, the paler its field of influence.” Research on the museum experience is still fresh and ongoing as Tröndle et al. expect their publications to culminate by the end of this year. Learn more about the project here.
Online Article: Tröndle et al. (2011). The Entanglement of Arts and Sciences: On the Transaction Costs of Transdisciplinary Research Settings. Journal for Artistic Research, 1.
Credit: Video by France 24 Le Journal de la Culture via YouTube.