University of Leicester

Interpretive Synergies Between Science And Intangible Cultural Heritage: A Case Study Of Communicating Knowledge About Thai Rice Farming In A Science Museum

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posted on 2021-04-30, 11:58 authored by Chanin Suriyakul Na Ayudhya
This research presents an approach to interpreting Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) for communicating science in the context of Thai science museums. Using rice farming as a case study, the research brings together literatures on worldviews, ICH and science communication, to conceptualise a framework that enables the exploration of connections between ICH and modern science through a design workshop. The ScienceICH design workshop was trialed in Thailand with eight participants from one ethnographic and one science museum. The participants had various disciplinary backgrounds and experiences in museum programming and exhibition development. The workshop facilitated knowledge exchange and sharing between participants in the course of producing design representations. The analysis of workshop activity showed that cross-disciplinary work played an important role in creating design representations such as exhibit prototypes that combine ICH concepts with mainstream science. These design representations have the characteristics of boundary objects that facilitate cross-disciplinary communication and embody the processes of negotiation and consent (over meanings, objectives and priorities) that are inherent in cross-disciplinary design teams. The workshop participants were thus able to bring together Thai rice farming ICH and science into an exhibition plan for Thailand’s National Science Museum. The findings suggest that the design workshop and its underlying theoretical framework can indeed be utilised by museum professionals to interpret ICH for the purposes of science communication in Thai science museums. This synergy can strengthen the links between the traditional knowledge that is embedded in ICH and modern science, and can in turn be one of the key factors that contributes to a sustainable future for museums and their communities.



Giasemi Vavoula

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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