chapter  12
The visitor as evaluator
Using appraisal theory to understand ‘threshold fear’
ByRuth Page
Pages 23

Evaluation is a central concept in visitor studies and in applied linguistics. This chapter utilizes the appraisal framework developed in applied linguistics to analyse the experiences of visitors in two contrasting museum thresholds. The use of appraisal is important for it helps build a theory about the affective nature of three-dimensional space and its organisation. Borrowing from pedagogic research, the chapter argues that spaces such as those found in the museum threshold are not just bound or unbound, but also more or less 'scaffolded'. There are three aspects to scaffolding that relate to threshold fear: physical orientation, cognitive orientation, and emotional orientation. The chapter illustrates the ways in which binding and scaffolding relate to appraisal by drawing on data gathered in relation to two museum thresholds: one at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London and one at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester.