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Storytelling as a tool of communication in exhibitions - chances and limitations

Project number: F 2465 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Ongoing Project Planned end: 2022-07-31


Exhibitions display contents in space. It is crucial to the success of an exhibition that it is able to communicate those informatively, permanently and in an enjoyable way. Especially a highly diversified audience has specific needs in exhibitions which makes a plausible and easy-to-grasp access even more significant. With that in mind it seems necessary to further investigate chances, limitations and requirements of using exhibitions as a medium. The aim is to further develop exhibitions; even more so for DASA's typical range of topics.

Storytelling, i.e. the personalised narration, is a strategy to make contents particularly accessible. However, there is little research on storytelling in the field of museum studies so far.

Following the hypothesis that storytelling in exhibitions reaches visitors on a social and emotional level it is expected that it facilitates the understanding of abstract topics. In examining this promising method it seems reasonable to join the scientific discussion about the role of communication in exhibitions and also to gain knowledge in the field of exhibition analysis using an innovative mix of research methods.

Therefore, the aim of this research is to understand the chances and limitations of storytelling in exhibitions and to formulate a definition of the term. On the other hand it is to be examined how storytelling in exhibitions with current social topics is accepted by visitors and whether it demonstrably influences visitor behaviour.

From a methodological point of view it is challenging to measure success in exhibitions. A mix of various methods from qualitative visitor research provides the opportunity to reflect specific situational visitor reactions. In this way, it is possible to provide multi-layered access to their needs.


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