Understanding Digital Museum Visitor Experience Based on Multisensory Cues
Visitors’ expectations of museums in the modern world consist of both utilitarian and hedonic aspects. Given visitors’ diverse expectations and demands, traditional museums have taken actions to attract more visitors. Taking advantage of new technologies is the current action and trend in the museum industry. The emergence of digital museums is the reflection of this tendency, which use digital technologies such as projectors, surrounded sound, ambient lights, and multisensory cues to present a virtual environment. In the virtual environment, emotional state and sense of presence are considered to be useful to provide a more engaging experience. Therefore, this research empirically investigated digital museum visitor experience perceptions and the influence of emotional state and sense of presence on experience perceptions. The different impact of multisensory cues on experience and the relative mediation effect were also examined.
Data were collected with a scenario-based online survey conducted through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). A split-sample approach with a total of 382 respondents was used for analysis. Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were used to explore visitor experience perceptions of the digital museum. Structural equation modeling was used to discover the impact of emotional state and sense of presence. One-way analysis of variance was used to compare the difference in impact of multisensory cues on overall visitor experience. This research also employed the PROCESS macro in SPSS for demonstrating the mediating effect of emotional state and sense of presence through the impact of multisensory cues on overall visitor experience. The findings of this study revealed three experience perceptions—respectively, joviality, personal escapism, and localness experiences—of digital museums. Also, this research presented the positive effect of emotional state on joviality experience and negative effect of emotional state on localness experience. In addition, a notable positive impact of sense of presence on joviality, personal escapism, and localness experience perceptions was found. No significant effect of emotional state on personal escapism was found in this research. Moreover, visual and auditory cues together were confirmed as the most powerful indicator for triggering the greatest experience level. The impact was found to be valid due to the mediating role of emotional state and sense of presence.
This research contributed theoretically and practically to museum literature and experience research. Theoretical implications were discussed to indicate this research as the framework to measure digital museum visitor experience based on the proposed three-factor structure. Practical implications were provided for museum managers. Limitations and future research were discussed.