Abstract Dr Dirk vom Lehn 20th June 2013

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Withdrawing from Exhibits: the Interactional Organisation of Museum Visits

"When entering art museums we notice a curious organisation of people's behaviour. Slowly but surely and quietly they move along the gallery walls, stopping and looking at exhibits before moving on to a next exhibit. This organisation is sometimes described as museum discipline and attributed to the architecture and layout of the galleries. This paper examines video-fragments of people's behaviour in exhibitions and explores how they practically bring about this organisation. When with another person, how do they bring the viewing of a painting to a close without disturbing the other? How do they move on together without making the leave-taking from an exhibit a topic of their conversation? Based on the observations, I hope to start a discussion about the implications they might have for our understanding of the relationship between action and environment, as well as for the design of technologies deployed into galleries."


Dr Dirk vom Lehn[1] is based at the Work, Interaction & Technology Research Centre at King's College London His research involves ethnographic, video-based studies of social interaction in museums and galleries, in optometric consultations and on street-markets.

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