Skip to content

Looking Through Glass: Understanding Visitor Perceptions of Visible Storage Methods in Museums

Thesis by Sena Dawes (2016)

Museums today try to increase the public’s access to their collections in a variety of ways. Visible storage is one such popular method. However, there is little research done on what the public thinks about this kind of access. This study sought to understand visitor perceptions of visible storage methods in museums. Thirty visitors were interviewed in the Multiversity Gallery at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, BC. Results suggest that the majority of visitors understood the purpose of visible storage, and believe that it is very or extremely important for museums to provide access to their collections. While most visitors reacted positively to visible storage, many felt overwhelmed by the amount of objects in the space. Study findings have implications for continued conversations around what visitors expect from museums and what they are getting out of visible storage methods.


Keywords: visible storage, collections, visitors, research, collections access, evaluation, visitor studies


Dawes, S. (2016). Looking through glass: Understanding visitor perceptions of visible storage methods in museums (Order No. 10138555). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1804413951). Retrieved from