Interactor/gallery enabler

 26 March 2013

Interactors and enablers help visitors understand and enjoy the site through interactive activities.

Enablers may run handling sessions to allow visitors to explore museum objects. Image: The Imperial War Museum.
Enablers may run handling sessions to allow visitors to explore museum objects. Image: The Imperial War Museum.

Interactors and enablers help visitors use interactives, meaning hands-on activities, and give demonstrations to bring museum and gallery exhibits to life.

What do interactors/gallery enablers do?

They interact with visitors in a variety of ways to help them understand and enjoy the museum, gallery or heritage site. They may work with a particular exhibit or section of an exhibition.

Other job titles related to this type of work include, learning assistant, demonstrator or facilitator.

The job could involve:

  • demonstrating how a particular exhibit works
  • engaging with visitors if they need help and answering their questions
  • making sure an exhibit is working and performing basic repairs or maintenance if needed
  • writing evaluation reports
  • running handling sessions to allow visitors to touch and explore museum or heritage site objects
  • leading talks or workshops for a range of visitors, from school groups to families
  • researching and coming up with new ideas for activities.

Interpreters have a similar role. They may demonstrate skills used in the past or help visitors interpret a period of history. The job could involve:

  • wearing a costume and demonstrating skills used in the past or re-enacting events from the past
  • being a room guide and helping visitors understand the history of a house and its artefacts
  • engaging visitors with stories relating to a historic house or site.

What is the job like?

You could be working inside in a museum, gallery, science centre or heritage site. Or outside at an open-air museum or heritage site.

In a smaller organisation an interactor/enabler may have a wider role. This could include responsibility for developing and co-ordinating a programme of learning opportunities.

How do I become an interactor/enabler?

The skills you would need include:

The job could involve wearing a costume and re-enacting events from the past.

  • to be outgoing and enjoy meeting people
  • to be flexible and adaptable
  • good spoken communication skills
  • an interest in history, archaeology, art, art history or science 
  • drama or performance skills could be useful.

Voluntary work in a museum, art gallery or heritage site would be a good starting point. Search for opportunities on their websites. The National Trust employs voluntary room guides, costumed interpreters and storytellers and offer work experience. 

Work experience or a job with the public, such as in retail or catering, would be useful. Teaching experience or voluntary work at a school would also be advantageous.

What training and qualifications do I need?

There is no set career route into this type of work.

For some jobs or voluntary positions enthusiasm for history or art, and being able to communicate well with the public, will be most important.

Useful GCSE options include history and art. At A level, history, archaeology, art, history of art and sciences could be useful.

For other jobs you may need a degree relating to the museum, art gallery or heritage site where you want to work. You may also need a teaching qualification or classroom experience.

Apprenticeships in cultural and heritage venue operations may include opportunities to work as a museum assistant in a learning team. 

The Association for Heritage Interpretation has a list of courses related to this type of work.

What can I earn?

Some positions are voluntary and could be good experience to get into paid learning posts.

Salaries for interactors and enablers range from around £13,500 up to £24,000 for a job where you are also planning and co-ordinating learning programmes.


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