This case is based on research conducted at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia “Leonardo da Vinci” in Milan and it is aimed at exploring how museum visitors’ learning and experience change due to the kind of visit they take part in. The research considers free tours, guided tours, and interactive labs, which are the three kinds of visits offered by the museum. The method adopted is based on personal meaning mapping, a methodology commonly used in the museum studies field to assess visitors’ learning and perception about a topic. Personal meaning mapping provides qualitative data that consider the background of the visitors before the visit and their new knowledge after the experience. The method also allows the participant to express his or her personal perception. The qualitative data are suitable to be interpreted through a quantitative analysis, after schematizing the visitors’ contributions in proper indexes.
The case describes how this methodology can be adapted to this specific research design, changing the frame of analysis of the gathered data and presenting how to use it. The case provides also some general reflections about the issues to be considered if personal meaning mapping is adopted.