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The Museum Experience Revisited

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Table of Contents

Foreword (1st Edition)Foreword (2nd Edition)PrefaceIntroduction: The Contextual Model of LearningI. Before the Visit 2. The Personal Context: Identity-Related Motivations3. The Sociocultural Context: Museums within Society 4. The Personal Context: Prior Experience, Interest and KnowledgeII. During the Visit5. The Physical Context: Exhibitions6. The Physical Context: More than Exhibitions7. The Sociocultural Context: In the Museum8. The Interplay of Contexts: The Museum as GestaltIII. After the Visit 9. The Museum Experience Remembered10. Measuring the Learning Impact of MuseumsIV. Beyond the Visit 11. The 21st Century MuseumAppendixReferences

About the Author

John H. Falk is a leading figure in free-choice learning, museum research, and science education in the United States. Currently, he holds the position Sea Grant Professor of Free-Choice Learning at Oregon State University. He is founder and Director Emeritus of the well-known museum research firm, Institute for Learning Innovation, in Annapolis, Maryland and has worked at a variety of other key positions in the museum world, including 14 years at the Smithsonian Institution. Falk earned a joint doctorate in Biology and Education from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of over one hundred scholarly articles and chapters in the areas of biology, psychology and education, co-author with Lynn Dierking of The Museum Experience, Learning from Museums: Visitor experiences and the making of meaning, and Lessons without Limit: How free-choice learning is transforming education; with Beverly Sheppard Thriving in the Knowledge Age: New business models for museums and other cultural institutions; and editor of numerous books including Free-Choice Science Education: How we learn science outside of school. Lynn D. Dierking is Sea Grant Professor in Free-Choice Learning at Oregon State University, co-directing a comprehensive learning research program integrating K-12, Collegiate Teaching and Free-Choice Learning concentrations. Over a 30+ year professional career, Lynn has worked in a variety of educational settings: Middle and high school science classrooms, the Smithsonian Office of Educational Research, University of Maryland's College of Education and as director of a middle school curriculum project, Science in American Life, at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Her work centres on the long-term learning of children, youth and families, the development and evaluation of community-based efforts and efforts to involve historically under-represented communities in free-choice learning.


"Like a classic rock album that has been digitally remastered, much of the core of the Museum Experience Revisited is reassuringly familiar and reinforces some of the beliefs and practices that are now well established in the field of Museum Education. However, the new research presented amounts to more than a couple of additional bonus tracks and a shiny new cover. For newcomers to visitor studies, the book provides an invaluable summary of what research has been conducted in the audience research field over the last thirty years...For those of us who have been following Falk and Dierking's research for some time, [this book] is a welcome addition to their body of work that usefully addresses the challenges that both museum researchers and practitioners face today." --David Francis, Visitor Studies "This incarnation of Falk and Dierking's work is a valuable resource for those in the museum community and specifically those in history institutions. Similar to its initial edition, this text provides a strong foundation for new museum professionals. It also functions well as a refresher for veterans in the industry, providing varied information about current research, theory, and best practices." --Kristie Smeltzer, History News "The authors' The Museum Experience (1992) has proved itself a useful guide to the structure and operations of museums, but Falk and Dierking (both, Oregon State Univ.) give solid reasons for this revision. Museum visitors have tripled in number worldwide, and the number of institutions has doubled. The authors see a "quantum increase in related scholarship," and museums changing somewhat from traditional institutions that host exhibitions to institutions that host exhibitions but do not maintain collections. The authors indicate that the museum's character is changing from being "a nicety in society to a necessity." This book aims to enhance understanding of the museum experience, in part through a focus on organizing visitors' experience via the Contextual Model of Learning, which combines personal, sociocultural, and physical phenomena with an awareness that each visitor comes with individual experiences. The bulk of the book analyzes the museum visit--before, during, and after, with an emphasis on the latter. The last chapter, "Beyond the Visit," aims at the future, with challenging goals that include promoting exchanges of intellectually important ideas, building self-actualization, and more. Most important, according to the authors, tomorrow's museum should be committed to public service and to reinventing its philosophy and practice. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals/practitioners." --CHOICE "A museum should be more than a room filled with old stuff. In The Museum Experience Revisited, the modern purpose of the museum and how it must be a place of education and history go together, as John H. Falk & Lynn D. Dierking touch on how the museum should seek to be something experienced instead of simply visited. Studying modern museums and changing trends, The Museum Experience Revisited is a must read for those with a strong curiosity in museums and life, and those who serve as administrators for them." --The Midwest Book Review "I was new to the profession when I encountered John Falk and Lynn Dierking as they set out to write the first edition of this important book. It helped the museum profession elevate their thinking about the importance of audience at a time when the visitor was thought to be the lesser element of a three part equation with the object and the authority of the institution given much more importance. Falk and Dierking in their persistence helped all of us even the equation. And now we all are much more mature, the field generally recognizes the audience as an equal partner. Falk and Dierking in reissuing this book with new writing elevate the discussion to a new more holistic level of consideration. They are again moving the intellectual bar upward."--Elaine Heumann Gurian, Senior Museum Consultant "The Museum Experience Revisited will be as powerful a tool for all museums and science centre professionals for the next twenty years as The Museum Experience has been since 1992. It has the fragrance of wisdom and the texture of common sense. I cannot see how anyone in the museum field could possibly survive without reading it." --Professor Per-Edvin Persson, Director of Heureka, The Finnish Science Centre "The first edition of this book made me--and many others--fall in love with museum work. This new edition pushes all of us to work with more sensitivity and nuance to make museums as useful and compelling as possible. " --Nina Simon, Author of The Participatory Museum and the Museum 2.0 blog "By updating their seminal work, Falk and Dierking have made The Museum Experience Revisited a must read for museum professionals who want to have the greatest impact on their visitors. With new references to social and digital media, insights into visitor motivations and learning, and suggestions for practitioners, it's again among the most influential of resources." --Cynthia Vernon, Vice President of Education and Guest Programs, Monterey Bay Aquarium

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