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.
- March’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Using stats: dos and don’ts When making an application, you must be careful about using... Read more >
- Personal Statement Action Plan: Section 2 of 2 You’ve done your reading. You’ve made your brainstorm. You’ve possibly... Read more >
- Interactive Interview Exercise Manual ‘What should I expect at my Oxbridge interview?’ ‘How will... Read more >
- What You Need To Know About A Level Reforms The A Level system that has been in place since... Read more >
- Stats report: our annual survey Every year, we survey hundreds of applicants who applied the... Read more >
- ELAT mini mock paper If you’re applying to read English at Oxford, you will... Read more >
- Is a “Religious Morality” rational? One of our Oxbridge graduate tutors, Emma, looks into the... Read more >
- Pooling: Fast Facts You may have heard people talk about “pooling”, or maybe... Read more >
- Cambridge Language Test overview If you’re applying for Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge,... Read more >
- Statistics: 2015 Annual Survey Want to find out what your chances are of getting... Read more >
- January’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: The Age of Census A census-taker knocks on a door, and asks the woman... Read more >
- English: answer like a pro We have a lot of questions year on year from... Read more >
- Taking a Gap Year There are a number of advantages to taking a gap... Read more >
- Law: answer like a pro Law is a notoriously competitive subject; this, along with the... Read more >
- Sports psychology for interviews Channel your inner champion Major sports personalities use these techniques... Read more >
- Law Reading List Cambridge Law and Oxford Law reading lists and recommended reading. Read more >
- MAT overview If you’re applying for Maths or Computer Science at Oxford you will need... Read more >
- LNAT mini mock paper & answers The LNAT, required for those applying for Law at Oxford... Read more >
- Download an Economics Personal Statement “I have a keen interest in current affairs but have... Read more >
- The Great Collection of Past Oxbridge Interview Questions The great thing about an Oxbridge interview is that it... Read more >
- International Application Calendar Keeping on top of the various deadlines and decisions when... Read more >
- Medicine, Maths, and Economics Puzzles We asked three of our top Medicine, Maths, and... Read more >