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Title: The impact of maps on spatial experience in museum architecture
Author: Lee, J. H.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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In museums, we consistently interact with museum maps to learn what exhibits can be expected and how to move around, and they work as an integral part of the museum experience. However, museum studies say nothing about museum maps, but rather they have focused on characterising museum experiences in terms of the interactive relationship between pedagogic forms of knowledge and configurational properties of spatial layouts. They hardly explain any role of maps in understanding visitors’ movement behaviours. Therefore, this research aims to answer the following questions: do museum maps relate to architectural and curatorial intents? Can they work like the spatial layouts? Or, can they communicate narrative meanings through graphic components? Do graphic interactions produce identical museum experiences? From two case studies - the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum in London - we argue that museum maps act as an instrumental device for embodying curatorial intents upon given spatial configurations, aiming to deliver survey or route knowledge and to make disciplinary knowledge visible. Throughout in-depth understanding of visitors’ movement behaviours, it is revealed that museum maps work in different ways. Regardless of graphic and configurational attributes, they enable experienced people to create new itineraries. However, novices make distinct movement patterns accordingly. In intelligible layouts, maps lead them directly to attractive exhibitions. However, they do not play a role in generating such an identical route in unintelligible layouts, but rather both strong narratives and syntactically integrated spaces regulate the novice’s exploration. These results suggest that museum maps play a role in shaping formal spatial cultures by communicating disciplinary knowledge, and they also generate highly informal movement patterns by transmitting spatial knowledge. It is concluded that museum maps add new relationships in understanding spatial experience, but they are of limited effectiveness in transforming unintelligible layouts into intelligible ones.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available