XJTLU researchers investigating audiences of international painting exhibition

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Researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University are part of a cooperative project that will conduct research into the audiences of an international painting exhibition.

Dr Yiwen Wang from the Department of Urban Planning and Design at XJTLU is part of the project, “Producing/Consuming 'Romantic Scotland': Exhibitions, Heritage, Nation and the Chinese Market”, which started in October 2016 and will last for 24 months.

It is led by Rebecca Bailey, head of education and outreach at Historic Environment Scotland, and funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The project aims to increase understanding of audiences, and capacity for audience research in Scotland and China as well as to facilitate knowledge exchange between academic and cultural institutions in the two countries.

Audience research is the study of visitors who go to museums, galleries, heritage sites etc., and is conducted by museum professionals or heritage site managers in order to better understand what motivates people to visit and what they expect to gain.

Dr Wang said: “We hope the project will influence UK cultural institutions to develop policies and improve their practice when preparing exhibitions for a global audience, especially those aimed at Chinese attendees.”

“We expect the findings of the project will reframe debates and thinking about how to evaluate exhibitions and how to develop tourist products for Chinese audiences based on a greater understanding of the nuances of the Chinese market.”

The research team is comprised of principal investigator Rebecca Bailey, co-investigators Professor Michael Silk, from the University of Bournemouth, and Dr Andrew Manley, from the University of Bath, as well as Dr Wang as international co-investigator.

Dr Wang is working in collaboration with Dr Manley to lead audience research into the ‘Romantic Scotland: Castles, Land and Sea’ exhibition, which will be held at Nanjing Museum from April to July 2017.

“Audience research helps museum professionals and heritage site managers learn how to engage their visitors more effectively through exhibition curation, programming and heritage site management,” she added.

In addition, the research team also has been collaborating with Dr Paul Craig and Dr Joon Sik Kim of the Research Institute for Smart and Green Cities at XJTLU to develop a visitor behaviour mapping application and a data visualisation application to facilitate audience research of the exhibition. The Research Institute of Smart and Green Cities has also been provided with exclusive access to the Nanjing Museum’s audience data in order to produce research papers.

During the project, XJTLU postgraduate students from the departments of Computer Science and Software Engineering and Urban Planning and Design will assist in developing the mapping and visulisation applications, participate in training sessions on audience research methods, conduct on-site survey and assist in data analysis and interpretation.

“This experience will enhance students’ professional communication and research skills, strengthening their competiveness and employability for their future careers,” said Dr Wang.

“The project has raised the visibility and international profile of XJTLU and provided opportunities for XJTLU staff to develop further international collaboration. I am optimistic about the potential and further opportunities that this cross-sector interdisciplinary research project can bring to XJTLU.”

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