eMotion: mapping museum experience - or: How to measure the reception of the art
Free lance visitor research and evaluation Wintzerith - Evaluation for cultural institutions Karlsruhe, Germany
Institut for Research in Art and Design University of Applied Science Northwestern Switzerland, Academy of Art and Design Basel, Switzerland
Moving inside the exhibition, being moved by the works of art, interpreting and sometimes even discussing them is mainly what visitors do in an art museum. While the main factors influencing the behaviour of museum audiences are relatively well known, their emotions and their cognitive activity remain a mystery. An interdisciplinary team of scholars and museum professionals started the eMotion project to investigate the physical, emotional and cognitive dimensions of the art exhibition visit.
eMotion is supported by the Swiss National Fund and Ubisense and is both a scientific research project and an artistic experience. The aim is to analyse the emotional and cognitive activity of visitors to an art exhibition while looking at works of art. A new technology is developed first to locate the participants precisely inside the exhibition, second to measure their skin reactivity and heartbeat as signs of emotions and cognitive activity. A questionnaire gathers further information about the participant visitors and their practice in the museum.
Where exactly do the participants have their peaks of arousal, both emotional and cognitive? Are those due to the works of art, their environment, both in combination or external factors? Do some works arouse more reactions than others? What about the same piece of art exhibited at different places in the museum? In other words, how strong does the context influence the perception of the art? And what makes out the art experience?
These are but a few questions that will be closely looked at while analysing the gathered data. eMotion is due to be conducted in June and July 2009 in the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (Switzerland). During this time, the data will also be processed in order to create a real time work of art integrated in the museums' exhibition. Each member of the team has a particular approach and needs to integrate the collected data in his/her own discipline, which makes the project even more enriching and thrilling. You will be the first to know about the findings of eMotion!