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Evaluating tangible and multisensory museum visiting experiences : lessons learned from the meSch project

Damala, Areti and van der Vaart, Merel and Clarke, Loraine and Hornecker, Eva and Avram, Gabriela and Kockelkorn, Hub and Ruthven, Ian (2016) Evaluating tangible and multisensory museum visiting experiences : lessons learned from the meSch project. In: Museums and the Web 2016, 2016-04-06 - 2016-04-09.

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This paper explores the potential of tangible and embodied interaction for encouraging a multisensory engagement with museum objects and artefacts on display, by means of focusing on the subtleties of devising and planning for evaluation and audience research. Measuring the impact of new technologies is one of the main challenges identified in the 2015 NMC Horizon report (Museum Edition). The challenge is even greater for emerging concepts, technologies, and approaches, such as the use of tangible and embodied interaction in museums and other Cultural Heritage settings. Taking as an example two case-studies from the EU meSch project, from Museon and Allard Pierson Museum in the Netherlands, we discuss our plan for devising and carrying out audience research so as to “document,” analyse, and interpret the impact of digitally enhanced, tangible, embodied, and multisensory museum visiting experiences. Our intention is to provide an honest account of the different strengths and weaknesses encountered for all evaluation methodologies that were used, namely observations, interviews, video data, questionnaires, meaning maps, and post-visit interviews. We also share and discuss lessons learned, insights and best practices that could be of benefit for museum and audience research professionals.