Between the secular and the sacred : emotive responses at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum
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The focus of this research study was to determine the nature of the experiences visitors have at The Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum in Houston, Texas. In order to discover these experiences visitors have in the space I conducted a phenomenological research study by interviewing eleven people at the Chapel and asking them to recount their experiences inside the space. Phenomenology enables the collection of rich description of the visitors’ experiences. To gather the data I used the methodology of narrative inquiry in an effort to accurately depict the participants’ stories about their experiences. The narratives I collected at the Chapel demonstrated that the space is one that provides an evocative learning experience rather than one that is informative. I found that there were a range of experiences in the space that related to the previous experiences or knowledge that visitors brought with them to the Chapel. The motivations for this study came from my own experience with the space before I started my graduate studies. However, during the course of this study it became clear that there is a lack of knowledge about visitors’ responses to The Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum. The results of this study benefit the field of museum education by making a case for recognizing spaces that provide opportunities for evocative learning, rather than viewing them as purely informative.