Exhibiting performance: co-participation in science centres and museums

January 1st, 2007 | RESEARCH

There is a growing commitment within science centres and museums to deploy computer-based exhibits to enhance participation and engage visitors with socio-scientific issues. As yet however, we have little understanding of the interaction and communication that arises with and around these forms of exhibits, and the extent to which they do indeed facilitate engagement. In this paper, we examine the use of novel computer-based exhibits to explore how people, both alone and with others, interact with and around installations. The data are drawn from video-based field studies of the conduct and communication of visitors to the Energy Gallery at London's Science Museum. The paper explores how visitors transform their activity with and around computer-based exhibits into performances, and how such performances create shared experiences. It reveals how these performances can attract other people to become an audience to an individual's use of the system and subsequently sustain their engagement with both the performance and the exhibit. The observations and findings of the study are used to reflect upon the extent to which the design of exhibits enables particular forms of co-participation or shared experiences, and to develop design sensitivities that exhibition managers and designers may consider when wishing to engender novel ways of engagement and participation with and around computer-based exhibits.


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Team Members

Robin Meisner, Author, King's College London
Dirk vom Lehn, Author, King's College London
Christian Heath, Author, King's College London
Alex Burch, Author, Science Museum London
Ben Gammon, Author, King's College London
Molly Reisman, Author, King's College London


Publication: International Journal of Science Education
Volume: 29
Number: 12
Page(s): 1531

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Audience: Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Art | music | theater | Computing and information science | Education and learning science | General STEM | Social science and psychology | Technology
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Exhibits