Museums are emotionally driven sites. People visit museums to feel and their emotions influence how the museum and its artefacts are perceived. Thus, evaluating emotional states are increasingly important for museums. However, evaluating visitors’ experiences is increasingly challenging, especially with the introduction of new and emerging technology. Moreover, people’s behaviour is not strictly objective and rational. While emotional states are subjective and hard to verbalize or observe, emoji are often used to express emotions on mobile and smartphone messaging applications. In this paper we investigate whether emoji can capture emotional states elicited by museum experiences, supporting traditional methods such as interviews. While other non‐verbal self‐report methods have been used to evaluate emotions, this is the first tool of this kind designed specifically to measure emotions elicited by museum experiences. We designed a set of 9 emoji illustrating a variety of emotional states beyond happy‐or‐not. Then, we confirmed that participants understood our emoji’s intended concept using a word association task. Finally, we used our 9 emoji to evaluate an interactive museum experience. We also run interviews and we investigated the correspondence between participants’ comments and the emoji they chose. Through this study we gained a better understanding of how the emoji can be deployed to capture a range of visitors’ emotional experiences. Our findings suggest that emoji can capture which emotional states participants felt beyond the happy‐or‐not dichotomy, but that they should be complemented with traditional methods such as interviews to understand why specific emotions were felt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-191
Number of pages25
JournalCurator: The Museum Journal
Issue number2
Early online date29 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Museology


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