Museum Emotions or Emotions in Museums

I like to say that emotions are the universal language of communication.

The words differ from language to language. You may say thank you, but also danke or gracias, merci or hvala, grazie or kiitos, obrigado or Ευχαριστώ… but, the feeling of being thankful doesn’t differ so much.

My blog is called Fun Museums, because it’s not a serious academic museum blog. I have no intention of doing scientific research on a museum collection. The only research I want to do is the one related to visitors, and the projects I need to do are the ones directed to visitors. For these reasons, I would like to understand what are the most common museum emotions.

No academic work - only museum emotions.

So, first of all, this is not a professional museum blog. Here I will never talk impacts, frameworks, polyphonic spaces, professional standards, documentations, not even visitor experience strategies.

I don’t intend to take other people’s work. Instead, I’m doing my own work.

My work is blogging. Blogging about emotions coming from visiting museums. I will not necessarily include things academic standards set as important in any of my posts.

So now, let’s move on and list some emotions. One more disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, and I will not list emotions as categorised in psychology books. My only objective is to list how can people feel in museums, and use some particular terms to describe it.

Museum emotions: FUN

I often try to remind my readers that I am aware that museums are not always fun. Having fun is just one emotion of the palette, one of the possibilities. For being one of the most positive feelings or emotions in life, it is the feeling of my choice when I’m talking about museums.

When did I feel fun in a museum?

I have fun in most museums I visit – no more explanation is needed for that. 😀

Museum emotions: LOVE

It can be a romantic love story, but let’s not limit ourselves to such a thing. Love is always very intense, sometimes happy, sometimes tough. Many of my readers say they love museums. Even more of them say they loved particular museums.

People love arts or sciences, while they also love their families and friends. Museums may or may not trigger the feelings of love.

When did I feel love in a museum?

It’s a little bit difficult to determine. Some museums made me feel a certain affection for their topics – for example a temporary exhibition of drawing and sketches I visited at the Albertina Museum in Vienna a few years ago. I love to draw, so I also love to visit the exhibitions of drawings.

The same I feel for photography – I felt a particular love for the idea of inclusion when I visited a temporary exhibition of photographs by immigrant artists in Munich’s Pinakotheke der Moderne.

Museum emotions: SADNESS

This is a tough one. Almost every museum has at least one sad story to tell. I noticed that some museums are afraid to tell sad stories. Some will say that my concept of having a “fun museums” blog opposes to telling anything sad.

Sadness doesn’t necessarily opposed to fun. Fun is an emotion, and it doesn’t come only from joy or amusement. Sometimes people have fun from watching drama movies or reading “serious” books. Visiting the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in which the main story is a 5000 years old crime novel, and the story is sad, is quite a fun experience.

When did i feel sadness in a museum?

There is one museum I am yet to visit – the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo. Similarly, I visited the City Museum in Vukovar. Both cities, Sarajevo and Vukovar, fell victims of conflicts and instabilities in the ex-Yugoslavia over the early to mid 90s. At the City Museum in Vukovar, visitors can find a lot of immersive content about the scenes and consequences of that conflict.

Museum emotions: FEAR

This one is even tougher the previous one. There are two main questions about this emotion. First of them is about the possibility to feel the fear inside a museum. The second one has to do with scary stories that trigger someone’s imagination in a little bit, let’s say, scary way.

I talk a lot about sustainability. Our environment is damaged and museum exhibition about it should – in my opinion – provoke some fear.

When did I feel fear in a museum?

I can recall I got afraid of some kind of disasters when I read about them in some museums. Just like it happens with sadness, the fear is another emotion museums should tackle in order to make people more aware.

Museum emotions: ANGER

How one can get angry at a museum? After describing the feelings of sadness and fear, anger is just another one that may come from the same sources or contents. Museum have the unique opportunity and power to influence. By provoking negative emotions, there is a chance some people will see certain issues a different way.

When did I feel anger in a museum?

There were a few times I visited an exhibition about domestic violence or racism-related topics. I wonder how many people felt it on these same exhibitions. Too many people still see these topics as a kind of joke, and maybe it makes me angry more than the exhibition itself.

Museum emotions: JOY

After the list of negative emotions, here we come back to positive ones. What is the difference between joy and fun? I would say “fun” is a more neutral thing, while “joy” is overly positive.

The feeling of joy may happen for two reasons – either because you are happy with your own choices of museums, things you learn, etc. or you found something lovely and amazing at a museum.

When did I feel joy in a museum?

Out of many examples, I can say visiting the Touriseum – Museum of Tourism in Merano (Italy) was a very joyful experience.

What are the other museum emotions?

After I host a Twitter chat for Museum Hour, I will receive more insights and write a new article. Join us if you can… 😀 😀 😀

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