Quantifying the experience of a paintings exhibition with wearable sensors

Museum curators and staff design exhibits to appeal to visitors. But once exhibits open, staff and researchers know little about how people experience the shows, relying on subjective visitor feedback. The way that visitors interact with art, influence one another, and what they look at, enjoy and miss altogether, is of interest to museum curators. And, as active public settings, museum spaces provide an interesting laboratory for understanding human behaviour and the intersections between art, architecture, psychology and communication.

In this project, we supplement self-reported data with sensor technology to unobtrusively record behavior. This is the first effort of its kind. Previous work on behaviour in museum settings uses cumbersome technology or requires a great deal of manual data collection.

We plan to use this data to gain new insights into how visitors experience museums. This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between computer scientists working on sensor networks, communication scholars who study decision-making and behavior, and staff of the Amsterdam Cobra Museum. Together, we plan a series of studies to examine how people use museum spaces, how layouts affect attitudes and behaviors, and how people influence one another in this context.

The study will take place in the Cobra Museum and represents a first effort to use this type of sensor data within a real-world exhibition. Social scientists will generate research questions based on theories of human behavior and decision-making. Computer scientists will set up the sensor networks to collect the relevant data. Curators can use this data to better understand visitor experiences and behavior. Both researchers will analyze data and write up work for publication.

Research assistants will be an integral part of this project helping to set up sensor networks, designing survey instruments, collecting and analysing data, and eventually writing up data for publication.

For a further description of the project, please visit https://www.dropbox.com/s/5g71ukrqvmh9qaz/%289%29%20NI%20Proposal%202014%20-%20Quantifying%20the%20experience%20of%20a%20paintings%20exhibition%20with%20wearable%20sensors.docx?dl=0

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