Affordances and distributed cognition in museum exhibitions

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Exhibitions are the primary medium for the public communication of science in museums. Recently, there has been an interest in explaining the educational mechanisms of exhibitions in terms of meaning making, interaction and space; however these concepts have not yet been integrated into one consistent framework. Here, we invoke the notions of affordance and distributed cognition to explain in a coherent way how visitors interact with exhibits and exhibit spaces and make meaning from those interactions, and we exemplify our points using observations of twelve visitors to exhibits at a natural history museum. We show how differences in exhibit characteristics give rise to differences in the interpretive strategies used by visitors in their meaning-making process, and conclude by discussing how the notions of affordance and distributed cognition can be used in an exhibit design perspective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMuseum Management and Curatorship
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)461-481
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ID: 124231027