Academic journal article International Journal of Design

Visitor Attention and Communication in Information-Based Exhibitions

Academic journal article International Journal of Design

Visitor Attention and Communication in Information-Based Exhibitions

Article excerpt


While early exhibitions were for the collection and preservation of objects and limited to people of a particular class or to intellectuals, exhibitions became an effective tool for research and education and became popular with the general public. Nowadays, as the scope of the exhibition industry expands and its cultural aspirations rise, the exhibition's domain and roles are ever expanding as the means for communication not only in museums but also in the commercial and public service sectors (Edson & Dean, 1994). Today's exhibition may be viewed as a communication medium or communication environment (Bayer, 1961; Dernie, 2006; Edson & Dean, 1994; Lorenc, Skolnick, & Berger, 2007; Schittich, 2009; Velarde, 2001; Verhaar & Meeter, 1989).

Being used as a means of communication in various domains, the exhibition has evolved from the object-based exhibition,1 displaying relics or art works in museums or galleries, to more of the information-based exhibition (see Endnote 1) of images or texts in science halls, history museums, world fairs, information kiosks, etc. (Figure 1). The increase in information-based exhibitions has resulted in changes in the scope and role of exhibition text,2 from the supplemental role of a simple label or caption explaining the object to a major element of the exhibition content. Such an expansion of the role of text has brought about a diversity of presentation methods to attract the visitor's attention for effective communication. Not only the most conventional panel display at eye level, but also various media and technologies such as architectural settings, digital interactive equipment, environmental graphics, installations, etc., are in use.

[Figure omitted, see PDF]

Figure 1. Exhibition content scale (Verhaar & Meeter, 1989).

Accordingly, more effective presentation methods are needed for better communication with visitors in information-based exhibitions. However, until now most research has been focused on object-based exhibitions where typography plays only a supplemental role, such as labels in exhibitions (Bitgood, 2000; Bitgood & Patterson, 1993; Falk, 1997; Kanel & Tamir, 1991; McManus, 1989; Screven, 1992; Serrell, 1996; Wolf & Smith, 1993). Therefore, this study was conducted in order to identify typographical presentation methods for effective communication in the domain of information-based exhibitions. In particular, among the many typographical presentation methods, this study focuses on the use of the architectural surface as the expanded presentation interface, an approach that is common in information-based exhibitions. This study investigates the characteristics of using the exhibition floor, walls, and ceiling as an expanded interface, and discusses evaluation methods for and characteristics of attention and communication in exhibitions. Also, based on the assumption that typographical presentation methods utilizing architectural surfaces affect visitor attention and communication, a comparative study with panel displays, using post-hoc interviews, was conducted to understand their characteristics. The characteristics of, and relationship between, visitor attention and communication effects, when the typographical presentation is expanded to an architectural surface, are discussed and summarized through quantitative measures and qualitative study.

Architectural Surface as Interface

The most popular and conventional method of presenting information in exhibitions is to display text or images on boards or panels at the eye level of visitors who view them in a standstill posture; this has been the typical method employed for displaying paintings or sculptures in object-based exhibitions. Nowadays, as the exhibition text plays a major role in information-based exhibitions, the scope of the typography, which used to be confined to the panel or board, has expanded to include all of the architectural surfaces--walls, ceilings and floors--of the exhibition hall (Figure 2). …

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