Museum exhibit planning, an exploration of theory and practice among electronic mailing list and newsgroup subscribers

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Diffey, Linda L.
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The purpose of this study was to explore current exhibit planning practices and determine the role the visitor plays in these processes. In particular, evidence of visitor inclusionary exhibit planning among the actual practices of exhibit planners was sought. The secondary purpose was to explore and assess the utility of electronic mail for conducting open-ended interviews in social science research. The lack of research in the area of exhibit planning practice precluded the use of an existing instrument. Therefore, using established qualitative methods as a basis, exhibit planners' experiences and attitudes were explored through open-ended inquiry. Communication with participants, recruited from seven electronic newsgroups and mailing lists dedicated to historical or museological topics, was conducted via electronic mail. The electronic mail interview proved to be an efficient and effective means of communication. Although some drawbacks for using electronic mail to conduct research were identified, the length and uality of the responses outweighed the perceived risks. (Abstract shortened by MI.)