Narrative Space and Creative Use of Digital Media in Science Centres and Museums

Jiayi Jin, Qi Wang, Laura Hanks

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The present study is an enquiry on the contribution of bodily and sensory forms of engagement in the science museum or science centre experience. While the latter has been more often researched from cognitive and social perspectives, the recent surge in interactive displays, immersive environments and dynamic architectural forms has brought increased attention and need for a greater understanding and awareness of the physical, multi-sensory dimension of the museum visit. This can be explored not only in terms of hands-on displays and visitor engagement with objects, but as a multifaceted and enveloping experience, that involves the range of physical elements of the visit within a wide multi-sensory complex. In this work, the science museum is understood as a three-dimensional narrative environment, a medium in itself, that makes use of a rich, interconnected set of media, but whose specificity is given by its sensory and spatial dimension. In the first part, the role of this body-space component is framed within communication and learning theories and explored through a review of publications in the fields of museum studies, philosophy, design and architecture. In the second part, the topic is subject of a direct field enquiry, through the analysis of three European case-studies and a series of interviews with museum practitioners. As the case-studies show, space and the senses can potentially take on the role of key actors in the museum storytelling process. Furthermore, they may constitute the base for an effective, identity- and meaning- centred relationship with the museum environment. The connecting capacity and narrative power of embodied involvement through space and the senses may thus suggest to practitioners a revised social role for the museum as a narrative habitat and a complex, flexible understanding of visitor learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Event2014 Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference - North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, United States
Duration: 18 Oct 201421 Oct 2014


Conference2014 Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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