Museums and Visitor Photography

“A primer in using photography to document, experience, and share.”  Jeff Gates, Lead Producer, New Media Initiatives, Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“A cornucopia of the latest research... will become a standard reference. A great volume.”  Ed Rodley, Associate Director of Integrated Media, Peabody Essex Museum.

“Much-needed context to inform photography policies, and programs… an essential resource.”  Dr. Randy C. Roberts, Deputy Director, Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California.

“Fresh perspectives for museum and photography studies.”  Dr. Annebella Pollen, Principal Lecturer, History of Art and Design, University of Brighton.

“A fascinating in-depth look at visitor interaction and photography in the museum setting.”  Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Photographer, Document Scotland.

Museums and Visitor Photography: Redefining the Visitor Experience addresses some of the most fundamental issues relating to the burgeoning phenomenon of visitor photography - in a format which is attractive, approachable and actionable. Based on new research, and on innovative practice in leading museums (including the British Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Rijksmuseum and Wellcome Collection), this lavishly-illustrated, 500 page handbook will help you understand, connect with, and sympathetically manage visitors’ participation - both in the museum and online.

Positive and proactive involvement with visitor photography is still the exception, or in its infancy, in most museums and galleries. However, in this book, the authors share their exciting experience of visitor photography and how its creative use can result in: 

  1. enhancing social interaction and creativity
  2. encouraging audience engagement
  3. motivating learning
  4. helping recurate exhibitions
  5. connecting with new audiences
  6. and encouraging the contribution of new content. 

This ground-breaking, 500-page handbook, with over 100 colour illustrations, includes:

Introduction: Museums and Visitor Photography
Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert, Cyprus University of Technology

1. Understanding Visitor Photography
Beyond Expert Vision in Museums: Visitor Photography as Inspiration
Partick Van Rossem, Utrecht University

Digital Photography and the Materiality of Objects and Images
Jonathan Tadashi Naito, St. Olaf College

Visitor Photography in the British Museum's Sutton Hoo and Europe Gallery
Ellie Miles, London Transport Museum

New Ways of Looking: Self-Representational Social Photography in Museums
Alli Burness, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney

Social Media Souvenirs: Expanded Experiences Through Visitor Photography
Alexandra Weilenmann and Thomas Hillman, University of Gothenburg

2. Visitor Photography as a Research Tool
The Museum as Psychology Lab: Research on Photography and Memory in Museums
Linda A. Henkel, Katelyn Parisi & Carey Mack Weber, Fairfield University

Budding Photographers: Young Children’s Digital Photography in a Museum
Elee S. Kirk, University of Leicester

“Step into my Heart”: Analysing Online Visitor Photographs from Graceland
Mariruth Leftwich, Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh

My Grandma Had the Same Dog: Camera User Studies at the Rijksmuseum
Johanna Barnbeck

3. Audience Development and Advocacy
Visitor Photography and Museum Marketing
Kjersti Lillebø & Kirsten Linde, Akershus Museum, Norway

#captureParklandia: an Experiment with Instagram 
Kristin Bayans (Portland Art Museum) & Justin Meyer (University of Michigan) 

#MuseumSelfie Day: a Bigger Picture
Mar Dixon

The Selfie Factor: Developing and Engaging Audiences with Popular Social Behaviors
Jeffrey S. Bowen, University of Houston-Clear Lake Art Gallery 

Beyond the Museum Selfie: Becoming the Art from Afar
Leslie-Jean Thornton, Arizona State University

4. Visitors as Contributors of Content
Curating Social Media Photography In-gallery
Russell Dornan, Wellcome Collection, London

Digital Sculptures, Digital Visitors
Jenna C. Ashton, University of Manchester

For the People, By the People: Photography and Public Memory
Divya Rao Heffley, Carnegie Museum of Art

School Photographs: Suggestions for a Participatory Museology
Marta Brunelli, University of Macerata, Italy

Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert - a recent Smithsonian Fellow in Museum Practice - is the founder of the Visual Sociology and Museum Studies Lab at the Cyprus University of Technology and Assistant Professor in the School of Fine and Applied Arts.

She gained her PhD in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester and her MA in Visual Arts/Museum Education from the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently President of the International Association of Photography and Theory and has published widely on museums and photography.

Ed Rodley, Associate Director of Integrated Media, Peabody Essex Museum:
This book is a veritable cornucopia of the latest research on visitor photography in museums and cultural organizations. Presenting a wide variety of informed viewpoints, the book documents the efforts of researchers and museum professionals alike to unpack what is going on in visitors’ minds when they take photographs. The thematic groupings – Understanding, Researching, Connecting, and Participating – provide a useful scaffold for deep exploration of the subject. The essays are impressively frank and refreshingly free of the opinion masquerading as fact that dominates much of the public discourse around the subject. This book will become a standard reference on the topic. A great volume, really, really good work.

Jeff Gates, Lead Producer, New Media Initiatives, Smithsonian American Art Museum:
Since its invention, the role of photography in the art world and in our lives has been debated. But with its meteoric rise at the beginning of the 21st century, these discussions have changed as photographs have become ubiquitous: cultural signposts of who we are and where we’ve been. So, it’s not surprising the role of the photographic experience has become a hot topic. Museums and Visitor Photography offers both a primer and points for discussion for museum professionals involved in developing strategies and programs, which take advantage of our culture’s interest in using photography to document, experience, and share.

Dr. Randy C. Roberts, Deputy Director, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California:
Presenting multiple perspectives on the potential of photography as an integral aspect of visitor experience, this volume provides much needed context to inform photography policies, practices, and programs in the 21st century museum. A comprehensive exploration of this timely and important topic, it is an essential resource for museum practitioners and scholars.

Prof. Nico Carpentier, Department of Informatics and Media, Uppsala University:
Museum and visitor photography is a unique intervention in the struggle over museum spaces. The book breathes respect for the museum visitor, and the richness of her/his experiences, skills and competences. The diversity of meanings embedded in the notion of the active visitor is unpacked, with a critical mindset and without fear for analysing failures and complexities. The book charts new territories in the most insightful ways, and opens many doors to better comprehend what visitors do when visiting.

Dr. Annebella Pollen, Principal Lecturer, History of Art and Design, University of Brighton:
Through theoretical discussions and empirical analyses, this up-to-the-minute collection offers fresh perspectives for both museum and photography studies. Asking fundamental questions about museum decorum and engagement, and about photographic spectatorship and participation, Museums and Visitor Photography overturns conventional wisdom and sidesteps moral panics to examine the control and production of culture in the twenty-first century.

Prof. Elizabeth Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Photographic History, De Montfort University:
This wide ranging volume brings together three keys debates of the moment, the inexorable rise of imaging culture, the privileging of experience and the ownership of ‘heritage’. As these essays show, the practice of visitor photography in museums has had a major impact on how both museums and visitors themselves think about institutional behaviours in the management and appreciation of collections.

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Photographer, Document Scotland:
Over the past three years as Document Scotland have exhibited widely in the UK, including at the National Galleries of Scotland, we have always permitted and encouraged photography by visitors within our own photographic exhibitions. This book takes a fascinating in-depth look at that subject of visitor interaction and photography within the museum setting, and will for us be a valuable resource from which to learn, enabling us to make informed decisions and thus help us to provide a richer experience for visitors to our future exhibitions.

Duncan Grewcock, Principal Lecturer, Museum & Heritage Studies, Nottingham Trent University. Author of Doing Museology Differently:
An important collection of essays on an increasingly significant element of contemporary museum experience and practice. A must read for all those interested in expanding the range and form of meaningful participation between visitors and museums.

Museums and Visitor Photography: Redefining the Visitor Experience
Editor Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert
Pages 500 
Colour illustrations 105
Size 216 x 140 mm
Publication 2016
Editions £69 [paperback] £49 [eBook]
ISBN 978-1-910144-74-9 [paperback] 

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