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Understanding the Effects of ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ Tours on Visitor Understanding of Collections and Research

Gallimore, Emily Jane; Wilkinson, Clare


Emily Jane Gallimore


© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Collections can be a ‘mystery’ to many museum visitors, which makes investing in behind-the-scenes tours an opportunity for increasing awareness of the role museums play in scientific research. Drawing on the theories of contextual learning, situated learning, and legitimate peripheral participation, we offer insights from an exploratory study that investigated the potential effectiveness and practicalities of using behind-the-scenes tours to improve visitor understandings of museum research. This forum paper reports on emerging results from visitor questionnaires and staff interviews across six museums where we explored the experience offered by behind-the-scenes tours as an effective learning environment. These results suggest that behind the scenes tours remain under-researched and highlight the need for further investigation into the value of this visitor experience.


Gallimore, E. J., & Wilkinson, C. (2019). Understanding the Effects of ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ Tours on Visitor Understanding of Collections and Research. Curator: The Museum Journal, 62(2), 105-115.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 25, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 10, 2019
Publication Date Apr 1, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 9, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 2, 2021
Journal Curator
Print ISSN 0011-3069
Electronic ISSN 2151-6952
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Issue 2
Pages 105-115
Keywords science communication, museums, behind the scenes, museums tours, science learning, public engagement
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: [Wilkinson, C. and Gallimore, E.-J. (2019) Understanding the effects of ‘behind-the-scenes’ tours on visitor understanding of collections and research. Curator: The Museum Journal, 62 (2). pp. 105-115], which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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