The museum foyer as a transformative space of communication


  • Ditte Laursen
  • Erik Kristiansen
  • Kirsten Drotner



lobby, foyer, visitor studies, museum communication, transformation


This article explores how we may study physical museum foyers as multilayered spaces of communication. Based on a critical examination of ways in which the museum foyer is conceptualised in the research literature, we define the foyer as a transformative space of communication for visitors which has four transformative functions, and we ask the following question: How do people entering the museum practise these transformative functions so as to become visitors – and become non-visitors again on leaving? Answers are provided through an empirical analysis of the foyer as a transformative communicative space. Based on qualitative studies of four divergent Danish museums and a science centre, we demonstrate that the foyer’s communicative space supports transformative functions consisting of multiple phases before and after the visit itself, namely arrival–orientation–service–preparation (before the visit) and preparation– service–evaluation–departure (after the visit). We discuss the implications of these results for the museum and heritage sectors and argue for more granular understandings of the visitor perspective.