Harmony of context and the built environment: soundscapes in museum environments via GT
This paper presents an approach to analyze visitors' expectations and perceptions of museums' built and auditory environments. It aims to explore visitors' perception of acoustic and built environments in museums, generate a systematic categorization, and create a conceptual framework using the Grounded Theory (GT) approach. We measured the Equivalent Continuous A-weighted Sound Level (LAeq) and, following the ISO/TS 12913-2/3, conducted semi-structured interviews and questionnaire surveys were conducted to discover the sound environments and capture the subjective responses of visitors in two museums: the Rahmi M. Koç Museum (RMK) and the Erimtan Archaeology and Arts Museum (EAA) (both located in the most historical part of Ankara, Turkey). Although the selected museums offer two different experiences based on themes, exhibitions, and interior designs, we examined whether the museums’ soundscapes, connected contextually to the historical environment, could be perceived different from one another. Results show that Museum RMK, which has historical exhibitions and an historical building type, is more appealing to people's preferences and expectations than Museum EAA, which has historical exhibitions and a modern building type. The findings of the study reveal that peoples' perceptions are mostly dependent on the context in which sound is heard, rather than on sound levels in museums. In some areas, where sound was used as a design element, visitors had a better museum experience because they were able to interact with the exhibited objects on exhibit and feel as if they were living in a specific period.