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Understanding the visitor experience provides essential insights into how museums can affect people's lives. Personal drives, group identity, decision-making and meaning-making strategies, memory, and leisure preferences, all enter into the visitor experience, which extends far beyond the walls of the institution both in time and space. Drawing upon a career in studying museum visitors, renowned researcher John Falk attempts to create a predictive model of visitor experience, one that can help museum professionals better meet those visitors' needs. He identifies five key types of visitors who attend museums and then defines the internal processes that drive them there over and over again. Through an understanding of how museums shape and reflect their personal and group identity, Falk is able to show not only how museums can increase their attendance and revenue, but also their meaningfulness to their constituents.
John H. Falk, Ph.D. is a leading figure in free-choice learning, museum research, and science education in the United States. He is Sea Grant Professor of Free-Choice Learning at Oregon State University, is founder and Director Emeritus of the top museum research firm Institute for Learning Innovation, and has worked at a variety of other key positions in the museum world, including 14 years at the Smithsonian Institution. Falk earned a joint doctorate in Biology and Education from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of over one hundred scholarly articles and chapters in the areas of biology, psychology and education, co-author with Lynn Dierking of The Museum Experience, Learning from Museums: Visitor Experiences and the Making of Meaning, and Lessons without Limit: How Free-Choice Learning is Transforming Education; with Beverly Sheppard of Thriving in the Knowledge Age: New Business Models for Museums and other Cultural Institutions; and editor of numerous books including Free-Choice Science Education: How We Learn Science Outside of School.