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Museums as playful venues in the leisure society

Taheri, Babak and Jafari, Aliakbar (2012) Museums as playful venues in the leisure society. In: Contemporary Tourist Experience. Advances in Tourism . Routledge, New York, pp. 201-215. ISBN 9780415697422

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Abstract

Our focus in this manuscript is on the ‘playful’ aspect of cultural consumption in the context of the museum. We discuss how museum visitors can experience moments of ‘play’ through engagement with the museum exhibits. Although the concept of entertainment has already been extensively discussed in the literature in the form of, for example, family visits and interaction through electronic devices, we seek to further advance the discussions of playful engagement to highlight the importance of conceptualising museums as playful venues in contemporary society. We argue how in the conditions of postmodernity – where experience is driven and (re)shaped by hyper-reality and imagination – the visitor experience can be optimised. We locate museums within the broader context of society in which multiple competing entertaining entities (such as theme parks, TV shows, theatres, and the like) exist. As the core of our debate we argue that in a leisure-driven society (as it is or is becoming) museums can play a crucial role in capturing individuals’ imagination and fantasies towards creating memorable experiences. We build our discussion on the classic literature pertinent to motivations that drive leisure activities.