Thai visitors’ expectations and experiences of explainer interaction within a science museum context

Supara Kamolpattana, Ganigar Chen, Pichai Sonchaeng, Clare Wilkinson, Neil Willey, Karen Bultitude

In Western literature, there is evidence that museum explainers offer significant potential for enhancing visitors’ learning through influencing their knowledge, content, action, behaviour and attitudes. However, little research has focused on the role of explainers in other cultural contexts. This study explored interactions between visitors and museum explainers within the setting of Thailand. Two questionnaires were distributed to 600 visitors and 41 museum explainers. The results demonstrated both potential similarities and differences with Western contexts. Explainers appeared to prefer didactic approaches, focussing on factual knowledge rather than encouraging deep learning. Two-way communication, however, appeared to be enhanced by the use of a ‘pseudo-sibling relationship’ by explainers. Traditional Thai social reserve was reduced through such approaches, with visitors taking on active learning roles. These findings have implications for training museum explainers in non-Western cultures, as well as museum communication practice more generally.

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