The Inclusiveness of a Museum's Appeal Using Principles of Visual Persuasion

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  • Title: The Inclusiveness of a Museum's Appeal Using Principles of Visual Persuasion: A Case Study
  • Author(s): Richard Bello, Terry Thibodeaux
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Museums, Museum Visitors, Visual Persuasion, Inclusiveness
  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2014
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v06i02/58331
  • Citation: Bello, Richard S, and Terry Thibodeaux. 2014. "The Inclusiveness of a Museum's Appeal Using Principles of Visual Persuasion: A Case Study." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 6 (2): 69-88. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v06i02/58331.
  • Extent: 20 pages

Abstract

The appeal of most museums is inherently primarily visual. This paper makes use, therefore, of the theoretical work of Paul Messaris on visual persuasion to add insight into the persuasive messages present in the visual layout and design of one particular museum: the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. In the process, Messaris' key concepts of indexicality, iconicity (and an extension, analogical visual representation) and syntactic indeterminacy are first explained and then applied to the structure of the museum, as well as to the nature and layout of the collections themselves. The persuasive messages identified focus on, but are not limited to, the manner in which the museum reinforces the notion that it is inclusive both in the attributes of its collections and in the diversity of the types of patrons to which it appeals. Furthermore, reference to the public outreach materials offered by the museum are used to support the idea that these visually-oriented messages are intentional.