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The morphology of exploration and encounter in museum layouts

Y K Choi

Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 1999, vol. 26, issue 2, 241-250

Abstract: In this article an attempt is made to understand the relationship between the spatial structure of museum layouts and the patterns of visitors' exploration and encounter. Eight art museum settings are analysed by using space syntax. The analysis suggests that the configuration of museum layouts provides a structure for the exploration of the collections and buildings by visitors. Layout also modulates the pattern of coawareness as well as the pattern of encounter between visitors as they circulate through exhibition spaces. The overall effects of museum layouts can be described by two models: the deterministic model, which dictates viewing sequences and channels encounters in limited ways; and the probabilistic model, which modulates exploration and encounter statistically according to the syntactic properties of the layout. The findings imply that curators and designers alike can work with the layout to differentiate and yet control the possible experiences of visitors without imposing a rigid spatial pedagogy.

Date: 1999
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