Museology Master of Arts Program

November 14, 2019

Exploring Characteristics of Family Engagement Strategies Implemented Within Art Museum Exhibitions

Thesis by Claire Bennett (2018)

The purpose of this study was to characterize interpretive strategies used by art museums to engage families within exhibitions. The study focused characterizing the various ways in which staff tried to engage families with art in exhibitions as well as the perceived affordances and constraints associated with those strategies. Using a case study design, data were collected from three art museums through semi-structured focus groups and document analysis of exhibition photographs or related documents. Findings suggest that these institutions used a number of design, spatial, and text-based strategies to engage families with art, even though these museums did not plan exclusively for families within exhibitions. Staff felt these strategies gave families context, encouraged collaboration, encouraged different levels of engagement, and gave visitors a place to relax. However, staff at these museums felt that successful inclusion of these family engagement strategies required early buy-in from a range of staff outside education departments; needed adequate facilitation or scaffolding for visitors; included activities with potential maintenance issues; and that inclusion of these strategies depended on content of exhibitions. These results offer the field an understanding of the strategies these institutions encouraged families to engage with art within exhibition.

Keywords: Class of 2018, museology, Museum Studies, Communication and the Arts, Art Museum, Exhibition Interpretation, Family Engagement


Bennett, C., Luke, Jessica, & Hagewood, Michelle. (2018). Exploring Characteristics of Family Engagement Strategies Implemented within Art Museum Exhibitions, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.