How the Visitors’ Cognitive Engagement Is Driven (but Not Dictated) by the Visibility and Co-visibility of Art Exhibits

Krukar, Jakub and Dalton, Ruth (2020) How the Visitors’ Cognitive Engagement Is Driven (but Not Dictated) by the Visibility and Co-visibility of Art Exhibits. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. p. 350. ISSN 1664-1078

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The spatial arrangement of artworks is recognized as one of the key elements of exhibition design. The underlying assumption is that the layout can strengthen the impact of individual exhibits, because the way visitors visually engage with artworks affects how they are cognitively processed. This paper explores the influence of the exhibits’ visual properties on the visitors’ attention and their memory of artworks. Attention was recorded with the use of mobile eye-tracking and memory was measured by an unanticipated recognition test immediately after the visit. The paper analyses both the total amount of attention spent on interacting with each artwork, as well as the strategy through which attention was allocated: through primarily longer (“diligent”) looks, versus primarily shorter (“distracted”) glimpses. Results of two experiments demonstrate that the visibility and co-visibility of artworks affected the amount of attention allocated to them, and the strategy of attention allocation. While the amount of attention contributed to improving the recognition memory of pictures, the strategy of attention allocation did not. These findings demonstrate the power of the exhibition’s visual properties to influence the experience of museum visitors but also highlight the visitors’ ability to employ alternative viewing strategies without diminishing the cognitive processing of artworks.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: This work has been funded by the Northumbria University at Newcastle, United Kingdom. We acknowledge support from the Open Access Publication Fund of the University of Münster.
Uncontrolled Keywords: art gallery, co-visibility, eye-tracking, memory, museum, visibility
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Architecture and Built Environment
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2022 15:13
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 15:15

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