The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Massachusetts has appointed a neuroscience researcher to advise on how the museum can improve its visitor experience.
Dr. Tedi Asher has been tasked with synthesising neuroscience research findings and making recommendations to help PEM enrich and enhance its offering.
“We are very excited by the opportunity to be the first art museum to employ a full-time neuroscientist as a means to help develop new ways of designing experiences that are highly meaningful and relevant to visitors,” reports Dan Monroe, PEM’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO.
“Dr. Asher’s unique perspective and deep insight will enable us to make the process of art exploration and discovery especially rewarding, stimulating, and fun.”
Monroe added that the pioneering collaboration could well benefit the art museum community at large.
PEM began its neuroscience initiative over two years ago. Research suggests that the established methods of presenting and interpreting art are not always a good fit with the ways our brains work.
“PEM’s cross-disciplinary approach is exciting and comes at a time when neuroscience findings are beginning to be more widely embraced outside of the scientific community,” comments Asher.
“Neuroscience has the potential to deepen our fundamental understanding of human nature and reveal the mechanisms behind our human experiences. I am thrilled to have such a unique opportunity to collaborate with an organisation that embraces such a spirit of curiosity, ingenuity and experimentation.”
Asher’s appointment has been funded by a grant from Boston’s Barr Foundation.
PEM was founded in 1799 and is the US’s oldest continuously operating museum. Its collections encompass American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic and African art. Among the many historic structures on the campus is Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house.
Other research into the science of sensation at museums and theme parks includes the work of Professor Brendan Walker.
Images courtesy PEM