Pattara Suwannakarn or ‘Pun’ is currently Managing Director of the Peranakan Phuket Museum located on Thepkrasattri Road, Thalang (opposite Homepro Thalang).
What is your role at Peranakan Phuket Museum?
“My role is to run the museum, taking in the big picture of the museum’s projects which means I’m also responsible for the designing of the presentations with the aim of letting visitors really experience who we are.”
Please tell us about Paranakan Phuket Museum
“It started with my family background which known as ‘Taweesuwan’. It’s been about 32 years that we’ve been in the local jewelry industry. Our interest at first was simply in local jewelry but after we studied more and more, we knew that there was something more to it than that. It involved culture, traditions, fashion, costumes, including lifestyle. We decided to research more. We talked with people. We read books. We gathered and collect information and knowledge. So we wanted to pass this on to others in the community and the fruit of all this is the Paranakan Phuket Museum.
We want to present the lifestyle of Phuket people from the past until the present through jewelry, the way of living, food, housing, and daily life. We didn’t want to make it a museum that simply collects and displays. We’d like to see our visitors leave us with real knowledge and experience and we really want to preserve this beautiful cultural treasure.”
How about the style of Paranakan Phuket Museum?
“We researched many museums, both domestic and international, and used their good points to adapt into our museum. We think a lot about the presentation in many ways such as touching presentation, using technology and virtual presentation, such as how would visitors feel when sitting surrounded by the real thing? We try to make it real and fun to learn for the visitors.”
What do you love most about your work?
“I would say the jewelry. This is the highlight of the museum as it was our original project. Each piece is original, for example, Bintang. ‘Bintang’ is a Malay word which means ‘star’. It consists of rose-cut diamonds, made into a brooch which both men and women can wear and it’s a symbol for the Peranakan. Another one is Kerosang which combines three brooches with or without a chain linking them. Kerosang also has its own story; why it has be three brooches; why a chain, how and when to use it.”
What’s the Policy of Paranakan Phuket Museum?
“We strictly focus on our staff. They need to be packed with knowledge and to able to pass this on to our visitors. Besides knowing Phuket’s dialects, knowledge about Peranakan Jewelry is required. If they work in the restaurant, they need to know about local dishes as well and if they work in the museum part, they should know enough about Phuketian’s way of life. We arrange training and tests on a regular basis.”
How do you promote the museum in Phuket?
“The TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) Phuket is helping us a lot. We also promote through online channels. But the most important factor that helps most is word of mouth. Locals bring their friends or families from other provinces or even from other countries.”
What do you love most about your work?
“What I love most about my job probably is the challenge of how to present our knowledge to visitors in a comprehensive and fun way. It’s not just about coming to have a look and going back home with nothing in their hands. We’d like our visitors to really experience, learn, and enjoy it. This is the most fun part of my job.”
What’s the hardest part of your job?
“The most difficult part is actually the same as that which I love the most about it. It’s how to draw people’s attention and to have them leave with a good experience. We always have something new, and never stop thinking up ways to help people come back again and have a different experience and learn new things. We’d like to constantly develop ourselves. This is the most difficult part but it’s also the most fun part of running this museum.”
What would you like visitors to gain from a visit to the museum?
“What I would like visitors to gain from a visit is a fun experience and knowledge. We’d like them to see that Phuket doesn’t only have beaches; we also have a beautiful culture and unique traditions.”
How would you define Peranakan Phuket Museum?
“I’d say it’s the fusing of different cultures; Thai, Chinese and existing local way of life that has created the unique and valuable culture of Phuket today and we’d like to keep it alive. This is our definition. This is what we’re trying to present.”
Peranakan Phuket Museum is open daily from 09.00 – 18.00. For those who are interested, visit the official website peranakanphuketmuseum.com for more information.