Transformative Museum Exhibition Design Management Framework: The Development of a Solution for Visitor Engagement Enhancement in Small Independent Museums in Thailand
An exhibition is a core product and service of a museum. Having a well-designed museum exhibition has the potential to create visitor engagement and repeat visits and lead to business sustainability. In Thailand, visiting museums is not a popular leisure activity. The majority of Thai people hold a negative attitude towards museums because of unfriendly, static, old-fashioned exhibition styles, which is the archetype of the Thai museum, including small independent ones. A high number of small independent museums have been established by a single person or a group of collectors. Their problems are a shortage of professional staff and ‘amateur’ curators (often the collector themselves) who and might not hold any museum exhibition design or management knowledge. Additionally, underdevelopment of Thai museology knowledge generally is a great obstacle to improvement. Meanwhile, existing museum exhibition design models have a deficiency as they are imprecise about the role of a curator in the exhibition design process and are often overly complicated. Furthermore, adopting western museology in a Thai museum context is a challenge. Thus, this research aims to develop a Transformative Museum Exhibition Design Management framework for the curators of small independent Thai museums to improve their exhibition design processes to enhance visitor engagement. This study employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The data from secondary research in museology, design theories and the Concept of Transformative Museum were analysed alongside the data from primary research to develop the framework. The qualitative structured questionnaire was conducted with Thai visitors. Six small independent museums in both the UK and Thailand were selected to participate in the in-depth interviews based on the result from site observation. The interviewees were the curators or relevant staff who work with the exhibition design process, professional curators and exhibition designers. Finally, the Transformative Museum Exhibition Design Management Framework (TMEDM) was developed based on the findings of: (1) Thai visitors’ expectations of a museum visit; (2) the flaws and the necessary improvement of the current museum exhibition and exhibition design process and practice of small independent museums in the country; (3) the definitions of a well-designed museum exhibition. The TMEDM framework also contains the Interpretation Design Strategy Model as a supplement to fully solve the problems of the exhibition design process in small independent museums in Thailand. The TMEDM has been evaluated with Thai professional curators and museum owners using a focus group interview method. Lastly, the outcome of this research contributes to both Museology and Design fields of study. It contributes design management knowledge to the curatorial job scope in museum exhibition design. Likewise, it broadens the knowledge of design management to cultural businesses and products.
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