Phenomenological interview and interpretation method illustrated: A study of museum visitors' experience of paintings
Having been a teacher of art for more than twenty years, I am deeply interested in the ways in which museum visitors look at paintings. What exactly happens to museum visitors’ minds, as well as to their bodies, when they are looking at paintings? Are such experiences “aesthetic experience”, a term commonly found in art textbooks and used by philosophers and art educators? In response to these questions, I developed and conducted a study which focused particularly on the experience of museum visitors who do not know much about art history or art theories. This paper is an illustration of the ways in which phenomenological method is used to study museum visitors’ experience of paintings. In particular, the paper will discuss the research method and procedures: determining the source and scope of data, conducting phenomenological interviews, and forming of themes, are presented with authentic examples taken from the study. The paper concludes with a discussion of issues related to reliability and validity of the method.