Visitor Perceptions of Augmented Reality in Science Museums
Dudzik, Benjamin Allen
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Augmented reality (AR) is a new technology that has recently been gaining popularity in museums. In an ongoing debate about the role of technology in museums amongst museum professionals, one voice has been largely absent: visitors. Research has been conducted on how individuals learn from augmented reality, but little has been done to understand museum visitor perceptions of augmented reality. The purpose of this study was to explore how visitors describe the value and role of AR experiences in science museums. A secondary purpose is to explore the extent to which AR changes visitors’ impressions of that institution. This study was a qualitative survey conducted on 51 adult visitors at two science museums–Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA and the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, CA—both of whom have augmented reality experiences. Findings suggest that visitors value the use of AR in science museum settings, particularly as an educational tool that engages and entertains its users. Additionally, visitors feel their AR experience has enhanced their perception of the institution as being more modern and up-to-date. This study contributes to the body of knowledge about best practices associated with augmented reality in museums, and raises several cautions associated with incorporating AR into a museum exhibit.
- Museology