Awareness-making (AM) describes a process by which visitors bring with them past experiences, knowledge, and ideas, all of which help them make sense of museum exhibits. Meaning-making (MM) is when museum visitors’ memories and experiences transform their museum experience into new knowledge and meaning. This article explores how AM elicits MM in museum visitors. I offer findings from a research study of a natural history museum exhibition called Minnesota Journeys, based on a moose natural habitat display and accompanying interactive touchscreen. The exhibition was developed in Minnesota by The Bell Museum for all ages. I report findings from a mixed-methods study incorporating surveys (n=243) and interviews (n=30) with adult museum visitors. I found that moose biology and ecology were not well-known subjects for this audience. However, after visiting both the habitat display and touchscreen, most visitors learned to identify specific moose biology and ecology characteristics, such as behavior and habitat. Also, the exhibit was more likely to elicit MM for visitors who answered AM questions correctly or agreed to AM belief statements. This study demonstrates how in a natural history museum setting visitor awareness-making can facilitate visitor meaning-making.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2019. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisor: Kristen Nelson. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 30 pages.
Does awareness-making elicit meaning-making in Bell Museum visitors? A mixed-methods study of a natural history moose exhibit.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.