How can neuroscience be used to improve your museum experience? The Peabody Essex Museum in Massachussets has gone so far as to hire a full-time neuroscientist, Tedi Asher, to help them revolutionise the way they present their art. Director of the museum Dan Monroe notes that museum culture is changing dramatically, with a significant decline in museum attendance and an increased emphasis on fun and entertainment as the priority for museumgoers. Because of this, Monroe realised the need for museums to evaluate their standard practices in order to stay relevant, and he struck upon the idea of incorporating neuroscience.
Carl Marci of Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience breaks down engagement into three aspects: attention, emotion, and memory. Attention alone is not enough to produce a lasting impact; we all pay attention to things that we subsequently forget. He suggests that a significant emotional response is necessary to trigger a lasting memory. By priming museumgoers with a task before they view the exhibition, Tedi Asher hoped to elicit a stronger engagement with the art and to produce memories. This hypothesis was tested, with subjects divided into three groups and given different goals. Group one were just given a fact about the art; group two were asked to analyse the art to find a particular element; and group three were asked to make a personal judgment about the work. They were then interviewed to assess their engagement with the exhibition. Over the summer this data will be analysed; Asher hopes to establish whether the group given the personal reflection task displayed a greater emotional engagement.
The Peabody Essex Museum is in fact the second museum to directly incorporate neuroscience into its programme. In 2010, The Walters Art Museum collaborated with Johns Hopkins University to produce “Beauty and the Brain”, an exhibition-cum-experiment that asked museumgoers to analyse their reactions to abstract sculptures by 20th-century artist Jean Arp. Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the American Alliance of the Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums, comments: “in general, all of these interdisciplinary approaches are ways to provide new points of entry to diverse audiences”.
Applicants for both Psychology and Fine Art may wish to think about how studying the human mind can contribute to both the content and the presentation of art.
- Biological Sciences & Medicine: answer like a pro What kind of questions can you expect in an Oxford... Read more >
- July’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- TSA overview A huge range of subjects at both Oxford and Cambridge... Read more >
- For Your Reference: Admissions Test Factfiles The majority of Oxford courses, and an increasing number of... Read more >
- Oxford college snapshots With 35 colleges and Permanent Private Halls, choosing how to... Read more >
- MLAT mini mock paper & answers The MLAT or Modern Languages Test is required by Oxford... Read more >
- International Application Calendar Keeping on top of the various deadlines and decisions when... Read more >
- Philosophy Reading List If you are interested in Philosophy, there are several options... Read more >
- History Reading Lists The main challenge in the step up from school to... Read more >
- Law: answer like a pro Law is a notoriously competitive subject; this, along with the... Read more >
- BMAT mini mock paper & answers With over 90% of applicants now preparing for the admissions... Read more >
- April’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- 5 Easy Ways To Support Your Son Or Daughter Before Their Oxbridge Interviews The weeks before the Oxford and Cambridge interviews are a... Read more >
- Statistics: 2015 Annual Survey Want to find out what your chances are of getting... Read more >
- TSA Oxford mini mock & answers Thinking is very important to Oxford, so they’ve devised an... Read more >
- The OA School’s Magazine: Issue 1 Last year, Oxbridge Applications launched its first ever Schools’ Magazine,... Read more >
- College selection checklist Your college at Oxford or Cambridge is where you will... Read more >
- Oxford or Cambridge? Many applicants know that they want the best, but when... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: The Age of Census A census-taker knocks on a door, and asks the woman... Read more >
- Medicine, Maths, and Economics Puzzles We asked three of our top Medicine, Maths, and... Read more >
- Bursaries Both Oxford and Cambridge are committed to the principle that... Read more >
- Cambridge Language Test overview If you’re applying for Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge,... Read more >
- Oxbridge: the global impact Concerning UK university admissions, UCAS have released some interesting stats.... Read more >
- The Differences Between Similar Courses At Oxford and Cambridge For some applicants, deciding between applying to Oxford or Cambridge... Read more >