Museology Master of Arts Program

November 20, 2019

Cultivating Creativity: Understanding Visitor Perceptions of Creativity in Art Museum Exhibits

Thesis by Jenny Fisher (2018)

Over the decades, American formal education has prioritized benchmarks and standardized testing as indicators of learning, resulting in a population that struggles to think creatively in the workforce and as engaged citizens. Governmental agencies such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Education Association, and National Endowment for the Arts have identified creativity and creative thinking skill development as core components of student success later in life. To address the need for creative thinkers at any age, art museums have begun to consider ways to foster creativity in all of their visitors. This study examined visitor perceptions regarding creativity and its role in the art museum. The researcher interviewed 52 adult visitors after their gallery experiences in three art museums that identify creativity as central to their educational mission. Results showed that visitors define creativity broadly, and consider aspects of creative thinking to be extremely valuable to their personal art museum experiences. Visitors particularly value imagination and curiosity, making connections, and considering new or different perspectives in their exhibit experiences. These findings may be useful to museum professionals as they consider visitor engagement in gallery spaces, as well as researchers interested in creative thinking in informal learning spaces.

Keyword: Class of 2018,museology, Museum Studies, museology, Communication and the Arts, Art, Creative, Thinking, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Museum


Fisher, J., Luke, Jessica J., Herrenkohl, Leslie, & Mostov, Merilee. (2018). Cultivating Creativity: Understanding Visitor Perceptions of Creativity in Art Museum Exhibits, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.