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Development of qualitative evaluation methods for technical-thematic exhibitions

Project number: F 2500 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Ongoing Project Planned end: 2024-06-30


As they seek to improve their exhibitions and find out how visitors use and understand them, museums and other institutions with a strong educational role are increasingly carrying out research into their audiences and their own curatorial approaches. This involves looking at a diverse range of issues.

Thanks to many years of quantitative visitor research, for example, the DASA Working World Exhibition already holds a good stock of data on key factors such as the demographic make-up of its audience and the objects on display that are preferred by different sections of that audience. In order to be better able to explain these phenomena and put them in context, this research project is concentrating on the further development of qualitative survey methods. The aim is to develop a set of mixed methods that can answer questions about the experiences of people who visit exhibitions on technical subjects (perception, reception, use, understanding, opinions, social interaction, etc.) so that concrete measures to improve exhibition practice can be derived from the results.

For this purpose, the kinds of qualitative exhibition research DASA fundamentally needs will be clarified at the outset. In parallel, the project will analyse DASA’s experience of (qualitative) research, exploring the issues addressed, the methodologies used, the conclusions reached, and the resources required. The experience built up in-house will be supplemented by drawing on projects conducted at other institutions that put on exhibitions and in related research disciplines. Methods will subsequently be selected from this pool, further developed, tested in the real world, and assessed in terms of the quality of their outcomes. Finally, the mix of methods will be examined to ascertain how practical it is for various exhibition spaces at DASA and other institutions. The methods will be published as part of a dissertation, which will also make them available to other institutions.


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