Negotiating experiences visiting statens museum for kunst
thesisposted on 16.06.2014, 09:51 by Mette Houlberg Rung
This thesis deals with museum experiences and how they are continuously negotiated between the museum and its users and between the users themselves. Centred on one case study, Statens Museum for Kunst (The National Gallery of Denmark), it asks: How does Statens Museum for Kunst understand and progress the experience of adult visitors in the permanent galleries and how does this relate to actual visitor experiences? Throughout the thesis, the history of the Museum and its conceptual framework are revealed, discussed and compared to the user experiences that take place. This provides insight into the complex relations between users, artworks and the museum space. The thesis investigates five historic scripts at Statens Museum for Kunst in order to understand the rationale on which the Museum was founded and the current script developed. These scripts are compared to the results of detailed empirical studies, which reveal how users together form a highly personal and exploratory script. It is concluded that museum experiences at SMK have an inherent social dimension, which has fundamental impact on how the aesthetic experience and the development of the self take place in the galleries. Via bodily conduct and diverse conversations, users establish a unique experience in which they negotiate and shape the aesthetic experience together. This, the research demonstrates, is done through a re-framing of traditional aesthetic categories and a new type of self-formation. Thereby a discrepancy between the museum script and the users’ performance is detected: where the museum script mainly embraces knowledge, intention, structure and solitary contemplation, many users practise curiosity, spontaneous attraction and social negotiating. Thus, the Museum develops a script for ‘Bildung’ in which the enlightenment and education of users are in focus. However, the users themselves are engaged in a self-formation process where personal responses to art and dialogue with one another stand as the overall purpose of the museum experience.