Young children's perspectives of museum settings and experience

Piscitelli, Barbara & Anderson, David (2002) Young children's perspectives of museum settings and experience. Museum Management and Curatorship, 19(3), pp. 269-282.

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Research into the museum experiences of young children is extremely limited and hence there is currently limited understanding and appreciation of children's perspectives of such settings. This is quite surprising given that children constitute a significant part of museum visitorship by virtue of their inclusion as part of the family visitor demographic, yet accounts of their experiences are largely ignored. This article reports on children's perspectives and past experiences of museums.2 Seventy-seven children, from Brisbane, Australia, were surveyed individually using a combination of methods including semi-structured interviews, guided questionnaire, and a free-choice drawing activity. Analysis and interpretation of the children's responses indicated that they had extensive experience of museums and very positive perspectives about the settings they had visited. The children's responses, categorised by the types of museum experiences they encountered, lead us to conclude that their salient recollections centre on experiences which appeared to be non-interactive in nature, and directed towards large-scale exhibits in a natural and social history museum. Furthermore, the data suggest that the children's positive perspectives of museums were correlated with encounters with exhibits with which they could make ready connections with their pre-existing knowledge and understandings. Thus, there is evidence that exhibitions which provide readily accessible links with children's past experiences result in more positive affect than exhibitions which are hands-on, engaging and/or multi-sensory in nature.

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ID Code: 18769
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1016/S0260-4779(01)00018-8
ISSN: 0964-7775
Deposited On: 15 Mar 2009 22:27
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2009 05:12

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