This paper formed part of a broader set of writings in Volume 8 of the Open Museum Journal titled: Contest & Contemporary Society: Redefining Museums in the 21st Century.
Museums as Sources of Information and Learning: the Decision Making Process, was the third part of a research report from the Australia Research Council-funded project Exhibitions as Contested Sites, an “… international research project [that] investigated the role of museums with an emphasis on how institutions can deal effectively with the challenge of developing exhibitions on controversial issues and sensitive topics”.
This paper focussed on museums as places where visitors access information and learning, and what that means in terms of people choosing museums over other sources, especially when confronted with difficult and / or controversial topics. The primary data used for this purpose was from a series of focus groups conducted as part of the project, supplemented with findings from a number of surveys, coupled with a range of other research and literature. A model of decision-making and information access is presented and unpacked, giving insights into how respondents felt about the role of museums in a contemporary and information-rich world.
Lynda Kelly. 2006. Museums as Sources of Information and Learning. Open Museum Journal. Contest and Contemporary Society. Fiona Cameron and Andrea Witcomb (ed). 8. Download the paper as a pdf here: ljkelly-omj paper
Another paper about museums and contested topics:
Kelly, L. 2010. Engaging Museum Visitors in Difficult Topics Through Socio-cultural Learning and Narrative. Fiona Cameron and Lynda Kelly (ed). pp 194-210 In Hot Topics, Public Culture, Museums.