Strangers, guests or clients? Visitor experiences in museums// Zahava D. Doering

Science Education and Museums - - NEWS -

Author's address Smithsonian institution, e-mail: Abstract This! paper discusses three different attitudes that museums hold towards their visitors: (1) "Strangers":! This! attitude! arises! when! the! museum! believes! that! its! primary responsibility is to the collection and not to the public. (2)"Guests": From0 this point of view, the museum wants to do good for visitors out of a sense of mission, primarily through education activities and institutional defined learning objectives. (3)"Clients": This paper suggests that social trends will force museums to adopt attitudes and behaviors in which the museum is accountable to the visitor. Institutions will then acknowledge that visitors, as clients, have needs, expectations, and want that the museum is obligated to understand and meet. Based on empirical research conducted in nine different Smithsonian museums, the paper also discusses four major categories that describe the types of experiences that individuals prefer and find most satisfying in museums. (1)"Social Experiences" center on one or more other people, besides the visitor. (2)"Object Experiences" give prominence to the artifact or the real thing. (3)"Cognitive Experiences" emphasize the interpretive or intellectual aspects of the experience. (4)"Introspective Experiences" focus on the visitor’s personal reflections, usually triggered by an object or a setting in the museum. the paper concludes with a brief discussion of the museum settings and "servicescapes", that support or detract from the experiences of visitors. Keywords museums, strangers, guests, clients, visitor experiences

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