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The Museum as a Restorative Environment

Environment and Behavior
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
  • Design
  • Philosophy


Museums seem to be ideal environments for a restorative experience. A collection of objects both aesthetic and fascinating would seem appropriate for aiding the recovery of directed attention, and perhaps for reflection as well. Yet, according to anecdotal reports, museums often seem tedious and tiring. The authors explore this apparent paradox both theoretically, in the context of attention restoration theory, and empirically. Study 1, a content analysis of material generated by focus groups for a Getty Foundation study, yielded categories remarkably consistent with the theorized components. For Study 2, 124 museum visitors completed surveys on restorative aspects of their visit. As with Study 1, results point to the restorative potential of the museum, but suggest that those who are already comfortable in museums are more likely to receive this benefit.

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