Master's Thesis Abstract: Deeply Connective Encounters with Museum Objects
“Deeply connective encounters” are characterized by qualities such as transporting the viewer out of the flow of their daily life into a different sense of time or reality, and may contain components of reflection, absorption, deep understanding or intuition, sensory experiences, and awe, along affective and even perhaps spiritual dimensions. The experiences are identified by those who have undergone them as personally significant and memorable compared to other museum (and often life) experiences. This study sought to find emergent patterns in people’s descriptions of these type of experiences, on the premise that that these encounters are both under-studied and can be an important part of the value museums provide society members, and thus deserve more attention. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using twelve library, museology, and art history graduate students at the University of Washington, and five of these were transcribed and coded for similarities and significant statements. Findings included the fact that a given component could be integral to one experience and completely absent from others, but that there does seem to be a core set of qualities that often characterize these experiences, as well as the contexts in which they occur. Further research could investigate how common such experiences are, and delve more deeply into the particulars using a greater number of respondents.