Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: From explosions to explaining : a new historiography of the Science Museum Group Explainer role
Author: Pitches, Ceri Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 0106
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis explores the role of the UK Science Museum Group Explainer, a public-facing role with responsibility for engaging visitors and enhancing their experience of the museums within the Group. Arguing for new recognition of the performative complexity of this role, the research is driven by the view that its significance is currently undervalued within the science museum context. The thesis offers an original perspective on the contemporary Explainer, positioning it as the latest vital iteration in a performed science communication tradition that is here traced first, to the practices of Science Museum Guide Lecturers dating from 1924, and second, further back in time to nineteenth- century lecture demonstration practices at the Royal Institution, London. In so doing, it re-evaluates the role, challenging commonly held museum industry assumptions that the current iteration is simply a late twentieth-century customer service and education construct, and proposes a new history of its development and practice. The interconnected Performance Studies theories of embodied knowledge transmission and intertheatricality are utilised in conjunction with the performer-training concept of vertical transmission, to inform a new interpretation of the ways in which scientific public presentation practices can be seen to have been inherited or passed on. In this way the thesis suggests a line of performance transmission from the early nineteenth to the early twenty- first century. Highlighting performance elements within the contemporary role and its various suggested antecedents, the thesis proposes use of a new term, ‘performed explaining’, to uniquely describe their presentational forms, appropriately distinguishing them from the more ubiquitous twentieth-century museum industry term ‘live interpretation’. As a collaborative doctoral project the findings of this research are intended to be of particular significance to the SMG, but also the broader science museum and science centre industry. The thesis therefore concludes with recommendations for improving future practice in relation to the development of the Explainer role.
Supervisor: Taylor-Batty, Mark ; Terwey, Michael Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available