‘Educative leisure’ and the art museum

Laurie Hanquinet, Mike Savage


This paper argues that although museums have increasingly changed their mission to embrace ‘spectacular’ and ‘commercial’ goals in recent decades, their audiences resist this redefinition of the museum’s role. Based on a structural equation model derived from a survey of 1,900 visitors of the six main galleries of modern and contemporary art in Belgium, it shows that different kinds of visitors tend to share the same conceptualization of what museums signify, as a kind of ‘educative leisure’. They continue to differentiate museums from more commercial forms of leisure, and associate them with schooling and educational processes. We demonstrate that this appreciation of ‘educative leisure’ is shared by visitors from different socio-demographic backgrounds and is affected by other dimensions of the visitors’ profiles, such as the practice of creative activities or recent experiences of other art places (commercial galleries, fairs, contemporary art centers).

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Copyright (c) 2015 Laurie Hanquinet, Mike Savage

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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