Kinesthetic learning in museum : from expectations to exhibition design ?

Micheline Lelievre, France , Eric Gressier-Soudan, France, Isabelle Astic, France

Science concepts and technical principles are deemed to be difficult to understand. They sometimes generate anxiety that prevents the learning process. To skirt this problem, sciences and technics learning professionals have developped kinesthetic approaches that sometimes embody the whole body but most often boil down to a simple tactile approach. Further, they are not solving the initial problem: the endogen anxiety.

Sciences and technics museums combine two disadvantages: the anxiogen theme of their collection and the “it is forbidden to touch” rule due to the value of their artefacts. Fakes are often made to explain principles but they disconnect the visitors from the real exhibit. Then, how can we physically learn about the collection? Is there a way to have a physical knowledge of the artworks? How could we let our body understand what the exhibits are without any real and physical interaction? How could we “feel” them ? It was the challenge we had to tackle. “We” stands for a choreographer, a curator and a computer scientist. The paper presents the corresponding approach to afford this user experience provided to some volunteers. Some experimentations were leaded by the choregrapher. They took place at the Musée des arts et métiers (the French industrial sciences and technics museum), in Paris. Our feelings and volunteers ones let us think that our approach has reached its goal and even further as it could “desacralized” technics and sciences artefacts, but that it should be more formalized. However, this three voices paper first presents our kinesthetic experimentations and our expectations. We then discuss the casual experimentation feedbacks. We finally provide some hints to design interactive and tactile exhibits.