Beyond Learning: Exploring Visitors' Perceptions of the Value and Benefits of Museum Experiences

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Abstract

Abstract  This paper explores the beneficial outcomes that visitors seek and obtain from a museum visit, in terms that are not related to learning outcomes. It uses a deductive qualitative approach to investigate the meaning and value of a museum visit from the visitors' perspective. Three different levels of the meaning of the experience are considered: the attributes of the setting that visitors value; the experiences they engage in; and the benefits they derive. The findings confirm the importance of the “satisfying experiences” framework for understanding visitor experiences in museums, and extend this understanding in relation to the beneficial outcomes these experiences produce. The study also highlights the importance of “restoration” as an outcome of a museum visit. It is argued that the concept of the museum as a restorative environment, which enables visitors to relax and recover from the stresses of life, is worthy of further research attention. These insights will enable museum practitioners to better understand and meet their visitors' multiple needs and expectations.

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