An Identity-Centered Approach to Understanding Museum Learning



Abstract  This paper advances the thesis that museum visitors' identities, motivations and learning are inextricably intertwined. All individuals enact multiple identities, many of which are situational and constructed in response to a social and physical context. Identity influences motivations, which in turn directly influence behavior and learning. Visitors to museums tend to enact one or various combinations of five museum-specific identities, described here as: explorer; facilitator; professional/hobbyist; experience seeker; and spiritual pilgrim. Preliminary findings suggest that these identity-specific motivational categories might help to explain the long-term learning impacts of a museum visit.