History on Display: How Viewers Respond

New Technologies for Measuring Visitors’ Responses at Historical Museums

February 14, 2014 • 10AM – 1PM

918 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

  • Denis Peschanski, History, CNRS, Université Paris I
  • Yves Burnod, Neuroscience, Université Paris VI – Pierre and Marie Curie
  • Discussant: Adam Brown, Psychology, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Discussant: Marianne Hirsch, English and Comparative Literature and Women, Gender and Sexuality, Columbia University

Part of the Politics of Memory in Global Context series, Denis Peschanski and Yves Burnod presented an innovative experiment using eye-tracking technology and Inspot smart sensors to measure what visitors to historical museums look at and for how long. Conducted at the Mémorial de Caen, the French national museum on the Second World War, the experiment attempted to uncover how memorial and historical sites affect—and are affected by—the brain dynamics of memory. This research is part of the MATRICE project, which uses a technological approach to understanding the relationship between individual and collective memory.

The presentation was followed by a discussion by Adam Brown, a cognitive psychologist who investigates the construction of autobiographical memory, and Marianne Hirsch, celebrated for her work on Holocaust memory.