Challenges of Multimethod and Mixed Methods Designs in Museum Research
Keywords:museum, mixed methods, multimethods, temporality, comparability, inequality, power, method addition, method integration, situating
In this article, we draw on two research projects on museums to present how we combined qualitative and quantitative methods (e.g. semi-structured interviews, non-standardised observations, focused ethnographies, ethnographic observations and conversations; standardised surveys and observations), which designs we used, and which opportunities and challenges we encountered. Given today's pluralised museum landscape, the research involved questions of whether and to what extent museums are oriented to offering experiences and which role museum guards play beyond their security function. We show how combining different methods can be particularly fruitful for examining fields characterised by a range of tensions from different perspectives. On the one hand, this allows us to grasp the (conflictual) interplay of different dimensions (actors, exhibition aesthetics, concepts, discourses), and on the other hand, we can broadly situate our objects of research and interpretations. The first challenge we discuss is the temporality of the empirical procedure, including questions of how linear and iterative approaches as well as procedures running in parallel and sequentially can be integrated. Secondly, we ask to what extent findings from different approaches and museums can be compared with each other during the analysis—broadly or deeply, with regard to the number of museums or dimensions.
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