Hesitation before the impact

The museums and their visitors


  • Geir Grothen University of South-Eastern Norway




museums, visitors, method, cultural policy, event


This study has had a twofold ambition; to probe into the life in the museums, and to try out some concepts in a cultural policy research setting. The article does this by analysing encounters between art and visiting audiences with the use of “acontextual” analytic concepts; event instead of experience, affect rather than emotion and a broad understanding of the concept atmosphere. Furthermore, the empirical material for the analysis consists primarily of parts and elements that often are discarded or excluded in examinations. The preliminary conclusions invite to further probing into the interface between visitors and art, between the imagined world of culture and actual concrete events in spaces and settings we tend think of as cultural.


Adkins, Brent (2012): “Deleuze and Badiou on the Nature of Events,” Philosophy Compass 7:8, 507-516. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-9991.2012.00498.x

Anderson, Benedict (2006): Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, London: Verso.

Bal, Mieke (2017): Emma & Edvard looking sideways: loneliness and the cinematic, Oslo/Brussels: Munch Museum Mercatorfonds.

Belfiore, Eleonora (2015): “‘Impact’, ‘value’ and ‘bad economics’: Making sense of the problem of value in the arts and humanities,” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 14:1, 95-110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1474022214531503

Belfiore, Eleonora (2016): “Cultural policy research in the real world: curating “impact”, facilitating “enlightenment,” Cultural Trends, 25:3, 205-216 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09548963.2016.1204050

Belfiore, Eleonora & Bennett, Oliver (2007): “Determinants of impact: Towards a better understanding of Encounters with Arts,” London. Cultural Trends, 16:3, 225-275 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09548960701479417

Belfiore, Eleonora & Bennett, Oliver (2010): “Beyond the “Toolkit Approach”: Arts Impact Evaluation Research and the Realities of Cultural Policy?Making,” Journal for Cultural Research 14:2, 121-142. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14797580903481280

Bille, Mikkel; Bjerregaard, Peter; Sørensen; Flohr, Tim (2015): “Staging atmospheres: Materiality, culture, and the texture of the in-between,” Emotion, Space and Society 15, 31-38. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2014.11.002

Bjørnsen, Egil (2009): “Norwegian cultural policy: a civilising mission?,” doctoral dissertation, University of Warwick.

Blackman, Lisa (2015): “Researching Affect and Embodied Hauntologies: Exploring an Analytics of Experimentation,” in Knudsen, Brita. T. & Stage, Carsten, Affective Methodologies Developing Cultural Research Strategies for the study of Affect. London: Palgrave Macmillan 25-44 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137483195_2

Bourdieu, Pierre (1984): Distinction A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre; Darbel, Alain; Schnapper, Dominique (1991): The love of art: European art museums and their public. Oxford: Polity Press.

Brown, Alan S. & Novak-Leonard, Jennifer L. (2013): “Measuring the intrinsic impacts of arts attendance,” Cultural Trends, 22:3-4, 223-233. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09548963.2013.817654

Bøhling, Frederik (2015): “The Field Note Assemblage: Researching the Bodily-Affective Dimensions of Drinking and Dancing Ethnographically,” in Knudsen, Brita. T. & Stage, Carsten, Affective Methodologies Developing Cultural Research Strategies for the study of Affect. London: Palgrave Macmillan 25-44

Böhme, Gernot (2013): “The art of the stage set as a paradigm for an aesthetics of atmospheres,” Ambiances [Online], Rediscovering, Online since 10 February 2013, connection on 02 October 2016. URL : http://ambiances.revues.org/315 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/ambiances.315

Colman, Felicity. J. (2010): “Affect,” in Parr, Adrian, ed. The Deleuze Dictionary. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Danielsen, Arild (2006): Behaget i kulturen: en studie av kunst- og kulturpublikum. Oslo: Norsk kulturråd i kommisjon hos Fagbokforlaget.

Deleuze, Gilles (2011): Bergsonism. New York: Zone Books.

Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Felix (1987): Thousand Plateaus. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Felix (1994): What is philosophy? New York: Columbia University Press.

Derrida, Jacques (1994): Spectres of Marx. London: Routledge.

Ellis, Darren; Tucker, Ian; Harper, David (2013): “The affective atmospheres of surveillance,” Theory and psychology, 23:6, 716-731 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354313496604

Gadamer, Hans-Georg (2004): Truth and method. London: Continuum.

Gibbs, Anna (2015): “Writing as Method: Attunement, Resonance and Rhythm,” in Knudsen, Britta T. and Stage, Carsten, Affective Methodologies Developing Cultural Research Strategies for the study of Affect. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 25-44

Gibson, Lisa (2008): “In defence of instrumentality,” Cultural Trends 17:4, 247-257. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09548960802615380

Gray, Clive (2010): “Analysing cultural policy: incorrigibly plural or ontologically incompatible?,” International Journal of Cultural Policy, 16:2, 215-230. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10286630902935160

Kobyshcha, Varvara (2018): “How Does an Aesthetic Object Happen? Emergence, Disappearance, Multiplicity,” Cultural Sociology, 12:4, 478-498. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1749975517742212

Mangset, Per & Hylland, Ole Marius (2017): Kulturpolitikk: organisering, legitimering og praksis. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Mangset, Per (2018): “The end of cultural policy?” International Journal of Cultural Policy, 26:3, 1-14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10286632.2018.1500560

Mazzei, Lisa A. (2010): “Thinking data with Deleuze,” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 23:5, 511-523. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2010.497176

Mazzei, Lisa. A. (2013): “A voice without organs: interviewing in posthumanist research,” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 26:6, 732-740. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2013.788761

Newman, Andrew (2013): “Imagining the social impact of museums and galleries: interrogating cultural policy through an empirical study,” International Journal of Cultural Policy 19:1, 1-18. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10286632.2011.625419

Newsinger, Jack & Green, William (2016): “The infrapolitics of cultural value: cultural policy, evaluation and the marginalisation of practitioner perspectives, Journal of Cultural Economy: 1-14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17530350.2016.1141791

Norwegian Board of Education (1996): Core Curriculum for primary, secondary and adult education in Norway. Oslo

Oancea, Alis; Florez-Petour, Teresa; Atkinson, Jeanette (2018): “The ecologies and economy of cultural value from research,” International Journal of Cultural Policy 24:1 1-24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10286632.2015.1128418

Oman, Susan & Taylor, Mark (2018): “Subjective well-being in cultural advocacy: a politics of research between the market and the academy,” Journal of Cultural Economy, 11:3 225-243 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17530350.2018.1435422

Roschk, Holger; Loureiro, Sandra Maria Correia; Breitsohl, Jan (2017): “Calibrating 30 Years of Experimental Research: A Meta-Analysis of the Atmospheric Effects of Music, Scent, and Color,” Journal of Retailing, 93:2, 228-240. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2016.10.001

Ryder, John (2013): “The things in heaven and earth: an essay in pragmatic naturalism,” American Philosophy. New York, Fordham University Press, 141-176 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823244683.003.0008

Røyseng, Sigrid (2007): Den gode, hellige og disiplinerte kunsten. Forestillinger om kunstens autonomi i kulturpolitikk og kunstledelse, doctoral dissertation, Universitetet i Bergen.

Spangenberg, Eric R; Grohmann, Bianca; Sprott, David E. (2005): “It's beginning to smell and sound a lot like Christmas: the interactive effects of ambient scent and music in a retail setting,” Journal of Business Research. 58:11 1583-1589 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2004.09.005

Stavrum, Heidi (2013): Begeistringsforskning eller evauleringstyrrani?; om kunnskap om kunst for barn og unge, Nordisk kulturpolitisk tidsskrift. 16:1 154-171 DOI: https://doi.org/10.18261/ISSN2000-8325-2013-01-11

Stern, Daniel N. (2010): Forms of vitality: exploring dynamic experience in psychology, the arts, psychotherapy, and development, Oxford, Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/med:psych/9780199586066.001.0001

Stewart, Kathleen (2007): Ordinary Affects, United States, Duke University Press DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9780822390404

Svensson, Peter; Alvesson, Mats; Thorpe, Richard; Holt, Robin (2008): ”Qualitative Interview,” in “The Sage Dictionary of Qualitative Management Research,” Lund, Lund University Publications.

Verbeeten, Frank. H. M. & Spekle, Roland F. (2015): “Management control, results-oriented culture and public sector performance: empirical evidence on New Public Management,” Organization Studies. 36:7, 953-978 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840615580014

Vuyk, Kees (2010): “The arts as instrument? Notes on the controversy surrounding the value of art,” International Journal of Cultural Policy, 16:2 173-183 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10286630903029641

Wylie, John (2007): “The spectral geographies of W. G. Sebald,” Cultural Geographies 14:2, 171-188. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1474474007075353




How to Cite

Grothen, G. (2022) “Hesitation before the impact: The museums and their visitors”, Culture Unbound, 14(1), pp. 101–117. doi: 10.3384/cu.3223.