‘My special, my special thing, and my camera!’ Using GoPro™ as a complementary research tool to investigate young children’s museum experiences.

Ben Burbank, Debra McGregor, Mary Wild


This paper discusses insights derived from a small-scale ethnographic study designed to explore young children’s (aged three to six) everyday, lived experiences within a participatory family museum in southern England.  Inspired by the child-centred work of Kirk (2014) this paper begins by examining the effectiveness of photo-elicitation interviews in accessing ‘snap-shots’ of children’s perspectives of their museum visits. In the current study this method is complemented by the use of chest-mounted GoPro cameras to provide a first person and more holistic perspective of children’s museum visits. 12 children’s visits were filmed in total. During three of these, children were also carrying child-friendly digital cameras. As this was part of a larger study the data collection was designed to compare the utility of GoPro technology being used in tandem with both photo and drawing-elicitation. In response to these initial findings a photo-map of the museum was created to prompt discussion with the final six participants. Recruitment was purposive and there was no contact with the participants prior to them arriving at the museum. The video captured by the chest-mounted Go-Pro cameras is particularly illuminating when analysed in the context of the post-visit interview data. Although the photo-elicitation and drawing-elicitation interviews do reveal some important details about the children’s experiences and perspectives, the video footage highlights the difficulties with relying on these methods in an everyday museum setting. For example parental involvement in the children’s photography is far more pervasive than might be expected, and the degree to which the camera affects the nature of the children’s visits is notable. The video also reveals how easy it is to misinterpret children when relying solely on their recollections in an interview situation.  This paper finishes with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of using Go-Pro technology as a complementary tool in the exploration of young children’s museum experiences.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v16i3.2792

Copyright (c) 2018 Ben Burbank

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Museum and Society

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