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Meaning Making in Art Exhibitions: What Experts Give and Laymen Take

Realistic Depictions

Project Duration



Budget resources of KMRC


In art exhibitions curators plan and arrange pictures and information very deliberately to communicate art-specific knowledge and give visitors the opportunity to learn. This volitional communication is unbalanced, because visitors lack the concepts of and experience with art curators have. The present PhD project investigates how experts and laymen of art history look at works of art. A focus group with art historians was conducted to be able to define the concept of art-expertise and the goals experts pursue in exhibitions. Following studies were concerned with the meaning-making process of expert and laymen regarding single artworks and the context of arranged exhibits in the museum. Using the method of eye-tracking, differences in gaze viewing single paintings was assessed for both groups. How laymen deal with an exhibition created by experts was investigated in the Munch Room of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo. The goal of the PhD project is to find out how much of an exhibition concept museum-visitors understand and what resources they use to explain the exhibition contents to themselves.