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Being hands-on: enriching the visitor experience

Traditionally, museum objects were only observed behind glass and without tactile interaction but today, engagement with real objects is often encouraged. In today’s digital world, museums have to define their added value and interaction with real objects can be an important feature in enhancing visitor experience. What impact does being allowed to touch objects have on visitor experience and how can we design the most successful touch experiences with objects?

This session will combine practical experience from those in the field who have authentic, interactive objects on display, with research and evaluation regarding the impact of touching objects on visitor experience.

Convenor

Welmoet Damsma
Learning Officer and Trainer
Leiden
Netherlands

Session speakers

Assistant professor informal science education
Leiden University
Leiden
Netherlands
As a researcher, I have studied the interaction and perception of visitors with real objects. In several studies we have looked at how visitors value different kinds of authentic objects. We have also looked at how being allowed to touch the object influences their appreciation. In this session, I will share findings from my own research as well as from existing literature.
Senior Audience Researcher
As an Audience Researcher and Advocate, her primary focus is to ensure any experiences developed at the Natural History Museum (London) have visitors at their heart and are fun, engaging and meaningful. Recent projects invited visitors, both families and independent adults, to explore touch specimens and objects in various ways with interesting findings and lessons learnt which will be shared during the session.
Consultant
Skoletjenesten, Knowlegde center for out-of-school learning
Copenhagen
Denmark
Real objects and especially tangible real object hold great fascination for museum visitors. Visitors reach out and touch to get a deeper and perhaps more personal understanding of the object. In a study it was investigated how a combination of the use of real objects and the visiting students’ natural curiosity can make way for the students’ understanding of the evolution of birds and prompt authentic scientific activities In this session we will discuss our findings.
Director and Driver
Duesseldorf
Germany
Michael Bradke develops interactive exhibitions for kids and family audiences. With his MobileMusicMuseum he gained lots of experiences with showing original musical instruments in vitrines, handing out “real instruments” to play and using oversized soundsculptures for “free touching” and sounding hands on team activities.

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