Assessing Visitor Engagement in Science Centres and Museums

  • Wolfgang Leister
  • Ingvar Tjøstheim
  • Trenton Wade Schulz
  • Göran Joryd
  • Andreas Larssen


Science centres and museums struggle to measure how engaging specific installations are for visitors. We present a framework for assessing visitor engagement by using non-intrusive technologies. We present a profile for mapping out an installation over eight dimensions and how we created it. We also present techniques for performing assessments using the facial expressions of visitors and asking short, targeted questions to visitors. Combining these together results in a fast assessment that happens as a visitor interacts with an installation. We have performed evaluations of three different installations in three science centres: one looked at the role of competition in exhibits, one at ways to automate the assessment, and another at how altering components like narrative in an installation affects the assessment’s result. The assessment framework and classification method work in multiple installations and form the basis for a new tool for measuring engagement in a visitor centres and museums.