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Neuroscience gets into the mind of the museum visitor
POSTED 01 Oct 2019 . BY Andy Knaggs
Peabody Essex Museum's research has used technology such as gaze-tracking glasses and measurement of galvanic skin response Credit: Peabody Essex Museum
It requires some imagination and extrapolation about what a particular finding could mean in the context of an art exhibition
– Dr Tedi Asher
Every museum would like to know more about what goes through its visitors minds as they wander the floors looking at exhibits. How emotionally or intellectually engaged are they by an artwork? How much information about each exhibit is it optimal to provide to visitors?

Dr Tedi Asher of the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts is in the process of researching exactly how these factors and others impact upon visitor experience at the Salem-based museum: in fact, she is the first neuroscientist to be based at a museum.

Speaking to Attractions Management, Asher revealed what results had been gathered from the research undertaken since her appointment in 2017, and signposted the next directions that her work will take.

One study conducted has used gaze-tracking glasses and galvanic skin response, which measures sweat produced, to gauge attention, emotion and memory. Groups were given different levels of prompts – from no prompt at all, to judgement prompts (asking if they were moved by a piece of artwork) – as they looked around a three-gallery exhibition.

The data from the research found that those who received a judgement prompt spent longer looking and had a more intense emotional experience than those who received lesser prompts or none at all. Those with prompts also moved more slowly through the exhibition.

"This supported our hypothesis that the judgement prompt would be the most effective kind of prompt in facilitating engagement, because of the brain regions which are active when we have an emotionally moving aesthetic experience," said Asher.

The study did throw out an anomaly, however – one that is as yet unexplained. In an exit survey, those in the no prompt group perceived themselves to have had a more emotional experience than any of the prompted groups – the opposite of what the biometric data suggested.

Further research studies have been planned to harness eye-tracking technology to look at how people use labels, and the intention is also to start implementing neuroscience findings into an actual exhibition. The Peabody Essex Museum plans to share its findings via a new website.

Asher says she hopes that more scientists will enter the museum community to help grow this field, and says that doing so has stretched her professionally.

"I was trained to interpret data very strictly, but in this role I'm finding there is an art to interpreting the data," she said. "It requires some imagination and extrapolation about what a particular finding could mean in the context of an art exhibition, and it's taken a while to develop that mental framework."

Peabody Essex CEO Dan Monroe believes Asher's work will benefit the whole museum community, adding: "Dr Asher's unique perspective and deep insight will enable us to make the process of art exploration and discovery especially rewarding, stimulating and fun."

For more on neuroscience and museums, see the Q3 2019 edition of Attractions Management, available now.
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Jobs   News   Products   Magazine
NEWS
Neuroscience gets into the mind of the museum visitor
POSTED 01 Oct 2019 . BY Andy Knaggs
Peabody Essex Museum's research has used technology such as gaze-tracking glasses and measurement of galvanic skin response Credit: Peabody Essex Museum
It requires some imagination and extrapolation about what a particular finding could mean in the context of an art exhibition
– Dr Tedi Asher
Every museum would like to know more about what goes through its visitors minds as they wander the floors looking at exhibits. How emotionally or intellectually engaged are they by an artwork? How much information about each exhibit is it optimal to provide to visitors?

Dr Tedi Asher of the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts is in the process of researching exactly how these factors and others impact upon visitor experience at the Salem-based museum: in fact, she is the first neuroscientist to be based at a museum.

Speaking to Attractions Management, Asher revealed what results had been gathered from the research undertaken since her appointment in 2017, and signposted the next directions that her work will take.

One study conducted has used gaze-tracking glasses and galvanic skin response, which measures sweat produced, to gauge attention, emotion and memory. Groups were given different levels of prompts – from no prompt at all, to judgement prompts (asking if they were moved by a piece of artwork) – as they looked around a three-gallery exhibition.

The data from the research found that those who received a judgement prompt spent longer looking and had a more intense emotional experience than those who received lesser prompts or none at all. Those with prompts also moved more slowly through the exhibition.

"This supported our hypothesis that the judgement prompt would be the most effective kind of prompt in facilitating engagement, because of the brain regions which are active when we have an emotionally moving aesthetic experience," said Asher.

The study did throw out an anomaly, however – one that is as yet unexplained. In an exit survey, those in the no prompt group perceived themselves to have had a more emotional experience than any of the prompted groups – the opposite of what the biometric data suggested.

Further research studies have been planned to harness eye-tracking technology to look at how people use labels, and the intention is also to start implementing neuroscience findings into an actual exhibition. The Peabody Essex Museum plans to share its findings via a new website.

Asher says she hopes that more scientists will enter the museum community to help grow this field, and says that doing so has stretched her professionally.

"I was trained to interpret data very strictly, but in this role I'm finding there is an art to interpreting the data," she said. "It requires some imagination and extrapolation about what a particular finding could mean in the context of an art exhibition, and it's taken a while to develop that mental framework."

Peabody Essex CEO Dan Monroe believes Asher's work will benefit the whole museum community, adding: "Dr Asher's unique perspective and deep insight will enable us to make the process of art exploration and discovery especially rewarding, stimulating and fun."

For more on neuroscience and museums, see the Q3 2019 edition of Attractions Management, available now.
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David Walliams, the comedian, actor and best-selling author, is partnering with the UK's Alton Towers Resort to bring characters from his children's books to life at the park in a new attraction: The World of David Walliams.
UK government invests £250m into cultural and creative infrastructure projects
Funding support for York's National Railway Museum, Coventry's 2021 UK City of Culture programme and infrastructure and maintenance work at local and regional museums across the country are all included in the UK Government's proposed new Culture Investment Fund.
Blackpool Museum to evoke lively spirit of UK's seaside entertainment heritage
A £13m (US$16.8m, €15.1m) project to create a museum that celebrates Blackpool's role in the development of British popular culture is moving forward, following the award of a £4m (US$5.2m, €4.7m) grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
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Our services include: Dark ride design & build; Redevelopment of existing attractions; High-quality [more...]
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QubicaAMF is the largest and most innovative bowling equipment provider with 600 employees worldwi [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
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Red Raion: Meet the Team - Introduction
Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Introducing AnimaChat! – Animalive
Jurassic War - Immersive tunnel movie trailer – Red Raion
Miko and the Spell of the Stone - Movie Trailer – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

29-31 Oct 2019

Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum (MR&H)

Hilton Athens, Athens, Greece
18-22 Nov 2019

IAAPA Expo

Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, United States
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019

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