Beyond the lab: An examination of key factors influencing interaction with 'Real' and museum-based art

Matthew Pelowski, M. Forster, Pablo P.L. Tinio, Maria Scholl, Helmut Leder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The authors present a comprehensive review and theoretical discussion of factors that could influence our interaction with museum-based art. Art is an important stimulus that reveals core insights about human behavior and thought. Art perception is in fact often considered one of the few uniquely human phenomena whereby we process multiple types of information, experience myriad emotions, make evaluations, and where these elements not only occur but dynamically combine. Art viewing often occurs in museums, which-in conjunction with "real" artworks-may contribute greatly to experience. However, to date, psychological aesthetics studies have only begun to consider in-museum examinations, focusing instead on highly controlled laboratory-based studies, and leading to calls for a need to shift to ecologically valid examinations. To provide a foundation for such research, the authors consider what key psychological differences may be expected between original/reproduced and museum/lab-based art, and why the art experience may be different when occurring within the museum context. They also review factors that should be controlled for, or which may raise new, unexplored areas for empirical research. These include 3 main levels: the artwork, the viewer, and physical aspects of the museum. The authors connect these factors to a model of art processing and relate to findings from sociology and general museum studies, which have largely been overlooked in psychological aesthetics research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-264
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Art perception
  • Context effects
  • Ecologically valid study
  • Museum study
  • Visual art


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