Library Dissertation Showcase

What makes a museum visit memorable for children? A critical study

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2019

The child visitor plays an enormously important part in forming the visiting audience of museums, heritage attractions and galleries, with the experiences had within these environments having a profound influence over the children subsequent museum memories. This investigative study examines the influences behind the cognitive narratives created by children of a museum experience, through children’s recollections of their visit. Following the class groups visit to Eden Camp Modern Theme History Museum, 12 of the 34 year 5 and 6 students who attended to visit took part in a selection of semi-structured group interviews, which sought to understand their memories of the visit and why their recalled aspects of the museum were memorable. In conjunction with naturalistic observations taken onsite at the museum during the visit, the responses given by the children were thematically analysed in accordance with the Jefferson notation system, the data gathered showed that the children were heavily influenced in the cognitive narrative they constructed of the experience by the interpretative techniques located in the museum, but that most children recalled the emotive or physical aspects of these features as the foundation for their memorability. Clear gender and age disparities were also observed within the data, particularly in relation to the influence of in-class learning on post-visit recollections, and the accuracy and detail of the children responds. The accumulation of data suggests two separate conclusory points, firstly that the children were unaffected by their formal learning in the cognitive narrative they create of the museum experience, and secondly that the interactive techniques used by the  museums, such as total immersion exhibits, displays and tactile interactive features, play a minor role in influencing the visitor experience of the children, but that the emotive reactions caused by these interpretative techniques had an intensive effect on their recollection of the experience.

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