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The works of Edward Robinson and Arthur Melton conducted in the 1920s and 1930s are often cited, but rarely read. The focus of this article is on one of Melton’s (1935) classic visitor studies, re-examined in terms of several explanatory mechanisms including a decision-making model of visitor attention. Melton varied the number of paintings in a gallery from 6 to 36 in increments of 6. As the number of paintings increased, the proportion of paintings actually viewed decreased; however, the average viewing time per painting remained constant. Melton’s findings of decreased attention are discussed in terms of four possible explanations: perceptual distraction, selective choice, object satiation, and fatigue. While fatigue, satiation, and distraction have all been frequently discussed in the visitor literature, selective choice has not. The implications of the attention-value model for selective choice is described in light of Melton’s study.

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Bitgood, S., McKerchar, T. and Dukes, S. (September 2013) "Re-Interpreting Melton’s Study of Gallery Density and Visitor Attention." Visitor Studies 16(2): 217-225. DOI:



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