Museology Master of Arts Program

November 20, 2019

Museum Professionals’ Numinous Experiences: Exploring their Nature and Influences

Thesis by Kirsten V. Gausch (2017)

What kinds of experiences inspire museum professional to pursue work in this niche field? The purpose of this phenomenological research study was to explore the nature of early numinous museum experiences and their long-term influences on museum professionals. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 25 museum professionals, and transcribed and analyzed for common themes using an emergent coding framework. Results showed that museum professionals characterize their numinous museum experiences in highly personal and idiosyncratic ways. The data also indicated that museum professionals’ memories of these experiences can influence both their personal and professional identities, as well as their practices, in several ways. These results have implications for museum practice, namely in underscoring the importance of mentoring future museum professionals, enhancing awareness of museums as a career option, and making space for reflection and dialogue among current museum professionals.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum studies, museology, Museum, numinous museum experiences, transformative museum experiences, early interest, museum memories, museum professionals, career development, phenomenology, research


Gausch, K., & Luke, Jessica J. (2017). Museum professionals’ numinous experiences : Exploring their nature and influences. Seattle]: University of Washington.