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The Process of Visitor Studies in Art Museum Tracking the Behavior of Museum Visitors



Previous visitor studies have been conducted to observe what they see, how they behave, and ask for their appreciation after the exhibition. Recently, studies have been started to utilize digital technologies to consistently collect data such as ‘movement (e.g. moving line of visitors)’, ‘physiological response (e.g. Heart-rate, Skin Conductance)’, ‘gaze information (e.g. eye-tracking)’ and understand visitors based on these data. The researchers have aimed to analyze the aesthetic appreciation of visitors, however, there is a lack of research combining the above methodologies. For example, Carbon (2017) performed the visitor studies utilizing application for observation. Whereas, they did not consider visitors’ detailed response. Kirchberg and Tröndle (2012) was focused on understanding visitors’ aesthetic response by tracking their response, however, they did not consider the usage of analytical data in the actual field. The purpose of this research is to combine the methods of visitor studies to investigate visitors and provide services by graspng the detailed reaction of the visitors focused on technological methods. In this paper, we will suggest the combining process of technology-based visitor studies composed of three parts; First is collecting part tracking the response of visitors during their appreciation. In this part, we can utilize various technologies, such as the image recognition based on machine learning or tracking technology how visitors move and stay in the exhibition. Second, reasoning part is focused on figuring out which elements of exhibition would be satisfied or unsatisfied. The final part is, beyond understanding visitors, a service part to provide the information of visitors. For example, the data of visitors can be analyzed in real-time to extract their preferred artworks or format of exhibition. It can utilize as services for both visitors (e.g. art exhibition recommendation system) and museum professionals (e.g. visualized information of visitor analysis). In the future, we will conduct the experiment based on the suggested process. By proposing the direction of technology-based visitor studies, we expect to bring forth a rich discourse on the direction of future visitor studies.
The visitor studies have been conducted in 1920swith the research of Robinson
(1928). [2] His historical research has proposed a follow-up systematic
methodology which has great significance in terms of figuring out what is the
main factors of affecting to the visitors. The flow of this observational research
can be summarized as shown in Figure 1.
The Process of Visitor Studies in Art Museum
Tracking the Behavior of Museum Visitors
Art museums around the world are making a lot of effort to find ways to solve
“contemporary art is difficult". In case of contemporary art, the concept itself is
important. In this reason, even if artists make artwork to use same medium
(material) with traditional art, it shows a complex tendency that is difficult to
understand with simple impression. In order to narrow the gap, researches are
being steadily carried out to grasp the tendency and interests of the visitors.
These are called visitor studies that try to understand the movement of visitors,
the behaviors of visitors, and the motivation of visitors to visit museums.
Although there are many researches on the visitor studies, it is not enough to
investigate the needs of viewers about what kind of reactions the spectators show
in appreciation of the exhibition and the areas of interest therefrom. [1] To
overcome this limitation, recent visitor studies have utilized cutting-edge
technologies for tracking visitors. This research is to introduce the process
investigating visitors and providing service by grasping the detailed reaction of the
visitors through the related researches focused on technological methods. In this
paper, we will suggest the process of technology based visitor studies composed
of three parts; collecting, reasoning, and service part.
Through this study, it is possible to grasp the aesthetical factors that attract the
visitors' interest in the artwork and even exhibition. It can be the evidence to
enhance understanding of the effects of artworks and exhibition.
Taeha Yi, Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST ,
Ji-Hyun Lee,Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST,
According to these previous researches utilizing the cutting-edge technologies,
we suggest the process of technology-based visitor studies (figure 3), which is
consist of three parts. First is collecting part tracking the response of visitors
during their appreciation. In this part, we can utilize various technologies, such as
the image recognition based on machine learning and tracking technology how
visitors move and stay in the exhibition.Second, reasoning part to analyze visitors
is focused on figuring out which elements of exhibition would be satisfied or
unsatisfied.Also, in this part, data visualization is often used;for example,
information which spot is most visited or not visited can be visible directly to use
heat-map method. [10]Third is service part to provide the information of visitors.
This part can be divided into services delivered to visitors (e.g. art exhibition
recommendation system) and museum professionals (e.g. visualized information
of visitor analysis). Most of visitor studies have been focused on the evaluation or
insight for museum professors, however, we need to consider visitors’ side.
This work was supported by Institute for Information &communications Technology Promotion
(IITP) grant funded by the Korea government(MSIT) (R7124-16-0004,Development of Intelligent
Interaction Technology Based on Context Awareness and Human Intention Understanding).
This research suggests a process of technology-based visitor studies based on the
categorizing the related works.Based on this research, in the future works, we will
conduct a experiment of visitors at actual art museum.By proposing the direction
of technology-based visitor studies, we expect to bring forth a rich discourse on
the direction of future visitor studies.
[1] Kirchberg, V., & Tröndle, M. (2012). Experiencing exhibitions: A review of studies on visitor experiences in
museums.Curator:The Museum Journal, 55(4), 435-452.
[2] Robinson, E. S. (1928). The Behavior of the Museum Visitor, New Series no. 5 (Washington, D.C.: American
Association of museums, 1928).
[3] Bitgood, S., & Shettel, H. H. (1996). An overview of visitor studies. Journal of Museum Education, 21(3), 6-10.
[4] Yalowitz, S. S., & Bronnenkant, K. (2009). Timing and tracking: Unlocking visitor behavior.Visitor Studies, 12(1),
[5] Smith, L. F., Smith, J. K., & Tinio, P. P. (2017). Time spent viewing art and reading labels.Psychology of Aesthetics,
Creativity, and the Arts, 11(1), 77.
[6] Carbon, C. C. (2017). Art perception in the museum:How we spend time and space in art exhibitions. i-
Perception, 8(1), 2041669517694184.
[7] Tschacher, W., Greenwood, S., Kirchberg, V., Wintzerith, S., van den Berg, K., & Tröndle, M. (2012). Physiological
correlates of aesthetic perception of artworks in a museum.Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(1),
[8] Walker, F., Bucker, B., Anderson, N. C., Schreij, D., & Theeuwes, J. (2017). Looking at paintings in the Vincent Van
Gogh Museum:Eye movement patterns of children and adults. PloS one, 12(6), e0178912.
[9] Massaro, D., Savazzi, F., Di Dio, C., Freedberg, D., Gallese, V., Gilli, G., & Marchetti, A. (2012). When art moves the
eyes: a behavioral and eye-tracking study.PloS one, 7(5), e37285.
[10] Martella, C., Miraglia, A., Frost, J., Cattani, M., & van Steen, M. (2017). Visualizing, clustering, and predicting the
behavior of museum visitors. Pervasive and Mobile Computing, 38,430-443.
Technology based Visitor Studies; Process of Visitor Studies;Visitor Behavior; Art Museum
Behavior Data [5, 6]
-Flow of movement
-Spending Time
Response Data [1, 7]
-Physiological Data
-Neurophysiological Data
Eye Tracking Data [8, 9]
-Fixation Duration
1920’s 1960’s
Isolated studies
of visitors Visitor studies
based on
(Robinson E.
and Melton A. [2])
Knowing more
about the behavior
of visitors
Related researches has
grown exponentially
Recently, studies have been started to utilize digital technologies tracking the
visitors, not just using Paper-and-Pencil method recording manually. [4] These
studies have used the cutting-edge methods to consistently collect data such as
‘Behavior data (e.g. moving line of visitors)’, ‘Response data (e.g. Heart-rate, Skin
Conductance)’, ‘Eye tracking data (e.g. fixation duration or number of blinks)’ and
understand visitors based on these data (Figure 2.) The researchers have aimed to
analyze the aesthetic appreciation of visitors, however, there is a lack of research
combining the above methodologies.
Figure 1. The flow of visitor studies (Revised [3])
Figure 2. Type of technology based visitor studies
Phase I.
Phase II.
Phase III.
Tracking Visitors’ Response Tracking Visitors’ Behavior
Data Analysis Data Visualization
Service for visitors For museum professionals
Figure 3. Process of Technology-based Visitor Studies
... Chalas studied the comparison between the Art Museum and Art Gallery to improve the exhibition's approach (Chalas, 2017). Similar to Yi studied the behavior of Museum visitor in the Art Museum in ordered to improve and develop their exhibition to be Contemporary Art (Yi, 2019). (Achiam, 2015). ...
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