Awe & Memories of Learning in Science and Art Museums

Monday, April 26, 2021
Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Museum and Science Center Programs, Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators | Learning Researchers
Art, music, and theater | General STEM
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, DePaul University, Northwestern University

This study looks at the types of awe guests feel when they leave art and science cultural institutions of various sizes and context, and how it may be related to what they remember learning. We surveyed 899 guests at the end of their visit and 550 of them again about one week later. Measures included a scale of awe-related perceptions (both positive and negative) along with questions about memories guests have about what they learned during their visit. Results show awe-related perceptions were consistent across institutions with only one significant difference, even when grouped by context (art vs. science). Guests’ memories of profound educational and emotional experiences were weakly related to the amount and types of awe they felt. This connection was strongest with memories of emotional connections and being surprised. We also found connections to social experiences and that prior knowledge was a strong, consistent predictor of positive awe.

Publication Name: 
Visitor Studies

Team Members

Aaron PriceAuthor
Kimberly QuinnKimberly QuinnAuthor
Sheila Krogh-JespersenSheila Krogh-JespersenAuthor

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