1. Experience seekers primarily derive satisfaction from the fact of visiting this important site.

  2. Spiritual pilgrims are primarily seeking a contemplative and/or restorative experience.

The researchers reported that 55 percent of the visitors showed one dominant kind of motivation under this scheme. The motivations accounted for about a quarter of the variation in visitors’ conservation-related attitudes and also correlated with aspects of visitors’ long-term memories, suggesting that aspects of identity served as a framework for visitors to make sense of their experience.

Identities such as these may be drivers for what participants do and learn in designed settings. For example, parents who want to develop a particular family identity are able to quickly adapt the general museum experience, as well as specific content, to reinforce the desired identity. Everything from expectations (“We don’t bang on the computer screen like that”) to personal narrative history (“Do you remember the last time we saw one like that?”) can be used to reinforce the values and identity of the family (Ellenbogen, 2003).


One aspect of identity is the learners’ agenda, that is, the cognitive, affective, or social expectations and goals the individual expects to pursue or satisfy during the event. For example, families tend to see visits as social events (Laetsch, Diamond, Gottfried, and Rosenfeld, 1980) and pursue an identity-related agenda as they generate their own pathway through museums (Cohen, Winkel, Olsen, and Wheeler, 1977; Falk, 2008). For example, Falk tells of Frank, a 40-year-old father whose agenda in museum visits is closely tied to his own childhood experiences. Frank’s father, a busy academic, spent little time with him as a child, although he valued science. Similarly, Frank sought to explore science with his own daughter and, at the same time, to play a more active role in his daughter’s life. Museum experiences gave him occasion to pursue deep, identity-building experiences. The goals of individuals and groups may be multiple (e.g., pursuing learning, enjoyment, and socialization in a single event) and may incorporate additional practical agendas as well, such as providing tours for out-of-town visitors and for entertaining young children.

Several researchers have interpreted their data to argue that learners act purposefully to meet their individual family’s learning goals. Hilke (1989), for example, concluded from her detailed analysis of family behavior in an exhibition that families are pursuing an agenda to learn during their visits to museums.

Anderson and colleagues (Anderson, 2003; Anderson and Shimizu, 2007)

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