Approaching Interpretive Planning Agonistically

At work, we are getting ready for a major redevelopment of our local history museum. It is a good opportunity to think more about what an agonistic approach to interpretive planning might entail. Most of it is not revolutionary; in one way or another much of this has been or is being discussed if not … Continue reading Approaching Interpretive Planning Agonistically

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Professional or not? Thoughts on an example.

I recently heard a short description about an interpretive encounter that made me think again about the construction of heritage, the use of interpretation to represent that particular view of heritage, and the social structures that are expressed and recreated in doing so.   The anecdote concerned a guided tour with a school group [1]. … Continue reading Professional or not? Thoughts on an example.

Heritage Interpretation for the Future of Europe

After last month’s Interpret Europe conference on the topic, I have been pondering what the role of heritage interpretation is for the Future of Europe. This is not a review of the conference [1]; however, I want to share some of the questions and thoughts I’ve had.   What future? The joke that Prof Dr … Continue reading Heritage Interpretation for the Future of Europe

Not Love, Not Passion: Interpretation as a job

There is a tradition within interpretation that identifies having ‘love’ [1] or ‘passion’ [2] for heritage and/or for people as a desirable, if not necessary quality in interpreters. This goes beyond just a lively, engaging delivery. It is to genuinely ‘love the thing you interpret’, as well as the people who visit it [3]. For … Continue reading Not Love, Not Passion: Interpretation as a job

Interpretation and Integration: Where ‘education’ may become an obstacle.

The main research question for my PhD was whether or not interpretation delivered the public benefits of heritage as asserted in relevant legislation and policy. A key benefit is mutual understanding/social integration and cohesion, and sometimes also more directly, peace [1].   I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular benefit over recent months. In … Continue reading Interpretation and Integration: Where ‘education’ may become an obstacle.

The uses of audience research

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference on ‘Understanding Museums’ in Germany. It was about researching museums and researching audiences, with a particular focus on new and innovative methods [1]. In the final plenary session, the organiser for the museum research aspect of the conference expressed his hope that the focus on researching audiences … Continue reading The uses of audience research

Visiting Rome, Or: The temptation of thinking in evolutionary stages of interpretation

Last week I came back from my first trip to Rome. What an amazing place! However, as someone working in heritage, I thought what probably thousands of heritage professionals before me have thought: this interpretation (if you can even call it that) is just terrible [1]. Signs were cluttered, randomly placed and half of the … Continue reading Visiting Rome, Or: The temptation of thinking in evolutionary stages of interpretation

Why We Need Good Interpretive Planning Processes

Two things recently have made me think again about what should be included in a ‘good’ interpretive planning process.  One was hearing at a meeting that first should come the decisions about the content, and then we’ll ‘add on’ the interpretation, suggesting an understanding of interpretation as, well, an add-on, a media solution. The other … Continue reading Why We Need Good Interpretive Planning Processes

Interpretation, using questions, and preferred readings

I recently read Sharon MacDonald’s fascinating book Difficult Heritage.  Negotiating the Nazi past in Nuremberg and beyond [1].  There were a lot of thought-provoking observations in the book, but the one I’d like to focus on today are the guided tours of the Nazi rally grounds. Geschichte fuer Alle organises these tours.  Their website explains … Continue reading Interpretation, using questions, and preferred readings

And that’s what good architecture can add to interpretation

In March last year I blogged about my thoughts on architecture and interpretation.  When I visited the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California last week, I was reminded of that post –as an example of where it works brilliantly. Now, I’m sure an Egyptologist would find plenty of faults with the pseudo-Egyptian museum buildings, … Continue reading And that’s what good architecture can add to interpretation