The Online Museum: A "Placeless" Space of the "Civic Laboratory"

Natalia Grincheva


Building on Tony Bennett’s (1995) understanding of a museum as a “civic laboratory,” this study advances this framework by researching a museum space in a virtual world. It shows that an online museum can be understood as a “placeless” space of a “civic laboratory” by analyzing visitor research methodologies that are utilized online. Through comparison of traditional museum-visitor research tools and methods with the ones that online museum spaces employ, this article seeks to demonstrate that the online museum environment is equipped with a plethora of tools that make it a laboratory-type research setting where visitor studies are conducted. The analysis reveals that the historical development of online museum-audience research has gone through methodological stages similar to those of traditional visitor research.


Museum Exhibitions; Research; Theory; Methodology; Evaluation; Ethnography; Behaviorism; Communications Theory

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