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Does Music Matter to Museum Visitors?: Understanding the Effect of Music in an Exhibit on the Visitor Experience

Thesis by Briana Brenner (2016)

The purpose of this study was to examine how music, used as an interpretive tool in a museum exhibit, affects the visitor’s experience. The study was a quasi-experimental investigation, utilizing a music condition and a control condition. Visitors were interviewed at the Renton History Museum after experiencing the Little House Exhibit during one of these two conditions. Three key findings emerged from this research. First, visitors stayed in the exhibit longer in the presence of music. Second, visitors noticed a difference between music and no music in the exhibit, but the music did not seem to influence visitor comfort or emotions. Finally, music in the exhibit influenced the nature of visitors’ learning, with more in the music condition saying they learned about life in the past. These findings have implications for museum exhibit designers considering the use of music as an interpretive tool.


Keywords: research, music, visitors, history museum, exhibitions, quasi-experimental, exhibit design, visitor studies


Brenner, B. (2016). Does music matter to museum visitors?: Understanding the effect of music in an exhibit on the visitor experience . ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. (Order No. 10138687). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1804414286). Retrieved from