Taking a Walk

‘Taking a Walk: Investigating Personal Paths in the Museum Space’ is a paper that was written by Luigina Ciolfi back in 2007. Below are my thoughts and quotes taken from the paper.

The paper describes walkthroughs as a technique for studying the experience of people on the move within a particular space. In the case of existing spaces to be enhanced by technology, it is useful to understand how people experience them and what reflections, reaction and experience they associate with the environment. In this particular case, walkthroughs were used in order to highlight how the features of the physical space are embodied in personal narratives.

The walkthrough research method not only provided data documenting staff and visitors’ experiences of the museum as a narrative path, but also inspired the design of ‘Re-Tracing the Past’. In this respect, walkthroughs helped design an installation that extended the museums identity and ethos, not replace it.

The walkthrough method is presented as a relitatively non-intrusive procedure of observing visitor activities and reaction to a physical space that they navigate and make sense of in-situ. It is presented as a method for capturing their experiences of a space. The researcher is engaged in dialogue with the participant, and from what I can gather, the participant is not set with a ‘goal’ per se: they have been set no particular tasks on which their performance is being monitored or judged by the researcher.

The concept of assessing the experience of an assembly is notable; they focused on the underlying themes that permiated the experience and how these themes helped the visitors to connect the different artefacts and make sense of their unfolding experience.

The personal meanings and experience helps visitor to relate to the museum as a ‘familiar and highly valued place’.

The Docents, who are a critical part of the visitor experience, use their movement through the space to tell their stories during the tours they give. The tour ‘provides authentic support of placemaking for the visitors’.

The notion of using movement through space to contribute towards providing support for authentic placemaking for visitors is an interesting concept. Does this mean that to provide an authentic experience of place it is essential to be able to walk around and be immersed in it’s physical space? Is an assembly of complementary artefacts, spread out across a space, is required for an authentic experience of place? If so, do each of the artefacts that make up the assembly have to be of equal, or near equal importance in contributing to that experience? When speaking to Peter Foynes of Cork Butter Museum about the possibility of a new installation, he stressed that he did not want it to dominate the immediate space surrounding it, or indeed the museum. In light of reading this paper, I would have to strongly agree with him in and take his concern very seriously.

The IDC Centre (part of University of Limerick) in Limerick who lead the ‘Re-Tracing the Past’ project in the Hunt Museum have written a lot and produced many innovative and interesting museum and public spaces pieces in the past. In the original pressing of this post, Luigina was part of the IDC Centre (August 12, 2012). I’ve no doubt that the work that the IDC and their partners have done and continue to do will be very influential on my masters.

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