This is a blog for HIST 479 that looks at exhibits and their emotional impact on audiences. Andrea Witcomb‘s “The Materiality of Virtual Technologies” highlights the impact multimedia exhibits have on a person’s emotions. As Witcomb put it, “The installation works through what Ross Gibson (2004) has described as the museum’s power to affect alteration. This is a process whereby the museum visitor undergoes a change from unknowing to knowing, from partial to holistic comprehension.” Emotions are vital to unlocking the real meaning of exhibits. With it, people are able to access the true significance of an exhibit. As a result, the holistic comprehension generated by emotions is a fascinating concept that deserves further exploration.
The emotional investment created by multimedia exhibits within its audience brings to light a number of questions. Do multimedia exhibits evoke a deeper awareness for the viewer than an analog display? How important is the viewer’s emotional response to an exhibit? If a person does not create an emotional connection with an exhibit, does this mean it was a failure? What role should emotions play in the construction of an exhibit?
In my opinion, the purpose of exhibits at museums is to teach. Since emotional responses created by exhibits are pivotal to the museum experience, feelings should be taken into consideration as displays are designed. If this trend took hold, exhibits would become more memorable and their impact on their audience would be greater. Hence, the interpretation of content and its emotional impact are paramount to the effectiveness of an exhibit.