Exploring the Romantic Potential of Museums: Emotion Exchange in Art Context


  • Lynn Tessa Süthoff University of Vienna


This study aims to explore the impact that museums and their exhibitions have on dating experiences. The term “emodity” has been established by sociologist Eva Illouz [1] and forms the theoretical starting point of this study. Emodity describes emotions as commodities and commodities as emotions. Leading to exploring the economics of emotion in the Museum.

Previous studies have explored the role of museums as dating venues in different cultural contexts [2], and the perception of dating relationships in adolescent women using artwork and photography [3]. However, these studies focused on individual subjective experiences of museum visits rather than exploring emotional exchanges during dates. Therefore, the study aims to conduct a multi-level empirical investigation of museums´ romantic potential, including four sub-studies, preceded by a pilot study.

The Pilot Study conducted on Valentine's Day aimed to exemplify the romantic potential of museums. Observations of couples and related interviews were held and showed a trend in museum visitors. These findings offered initial insights into the underlying dynamics of romantic interactions within museum settings.

This project's methodological diversity offers a holistic view on dating behavior. The first sub-study involves an online survey to collect quantitative data on the emotional potential of museums as a romantic venue. Additionally, the survey explores the economic aspects of dating and their potential influence on the emotions experienced during the dating process. Qualitative data will be collected through interviews in the second and third sub-study. These sub-studies involve investigating the initial stages of romantic connections through speed dating events hosted by museums, as well as exploring museum visits as a component of first dates. Finally, the last sub-study includes eye-tracking observations of museum visits in the context of repeated dates by long-term couples.

Overall, the study could shed light on how museums can position themselves as potential dating venues. The project is a novel attempt to understand how emotions are traded in a museum context, and the findings could have implications beyond the field of dating behavior.


[1] E. Illouz, Emotions as Commodities: Capitalism, Consumption and Authenticity, 1st ed., Routledge, 2017. doi:10.4324/9781315210742

[2] I. Ross, "The museum as a dating venue: Couples in the Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum in Bhopal, India," Museum and Society, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 72-87, 2018. doi:10.29311/mas.v16i1.2459

[3] G. D. Hays, J. Forman, and A. Sikes, "Using Artwork and Photography to Explore Adolescent Females' Perceptions of Dating Relationships," Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 295-307, 2009. doi:10.1080/15401380903385960