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Exploring, Engaging, Understanding in Museums

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Abstract

Patterns of accessibility through the space of the exhibition, connections or separations among spaces or exhibition elements, sequencing and grouping of elements, form our perceptions and shape our understanding. Through a review of several previous studies and the presentation of new work, this paper suggests that these patterns of movement form the basis of visitor understanding and that these effects can be deliberately controlled and elaborated through a closer examination of the influence of the visual and perceptual properties of an exhibition. Furthermore, it is argued that there is also a spatial discourse based on patterns of access and visibility that flows in its own right, although not entirely separate from the curatorial narrative.