From Map Using to Map Making: The Museum Experience Through Social Meaning Mapping
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This article introduces Social Meaning Mapping (SMM), a digital qualitative tool designed to be used by museum visitors in groups post-visit during a researcher-led session. SMM is embedded in a tablet-based app called Visitracker used to collect data in museums through surveys and timing and tracking of visitors’ interactions. For SMM, visitors are invited to recount their experience in a museum room verbally and visually by marking it on an illustrated floor plan displayed on the tablet along with digital paint tools. The app records both visitors’ talk and their markings. This paper discusses SMM and its methodological contribution to exploring aspects of the museum experience by drawing upon data from a collaborative study at the Austrian Gallery Belvedere. The findings suggest that SMM enables researchers to capture aspects of visitors’ previous experience and knowledge which become relevant in interaction with the physical and social context of their visit.