March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sessions: Abstract

Visitor Interactions with Digitized Artifacts

Anna Lindgren-Streicher, Museum of Science, Boston, USA
Christine Reich, Museum of Science, Boston, USA

This study explores how digital reproductions of historical artifacts are perceived and utilized by museum educators and visitors participating in two different kinds of museum programs. Each program featured the original historical artifacts, computer simulations that demonstrated how these artifacts move, and 3D tactile printouts that allowed visitors to explore the artifacts' shape and movement through their sense of touch. Research explored how user interaction with the digital and physical models compared to interactions with the original artifacts, what effect the integration of digital and physical models had on learning, and what the learning experience looked like for learners using the mechanisms during two different programs. Methods employed included a tracking and timing study that measured visitor attraction and engagement with the three different types of mechanisms, and visitor interviews that examined visitor perceptions of experience. Results showed that visitor preference for and engagement with the mechanisms varied greatly between the two programs. This suggests that whether visitors prefer to interact with the original artifact or the digitized reproduction may vary depending upon the context of use.

Session: On-Line + On-Site [Design]

Keywords: online collections, visitor research, learning, exhibits, rapid prototyping, engineering