A few years ago, I visited Stonehenge for the first time. Like many others, I was shocked at the (then) lack of interpretation and facilities, and after circling the stones once (also an oddly disappointing experience), I set off with the dog to go on a hike through the landscape, totally unplanned, merely drifting along … Continue reading Re-visiting Stonehenge, Or: Visitor Management Vs Experience
I have a confession to make: as I prepared for my first weekend of field research last week, I was suddenly overcome by a terrible fear. What if it turns out that interpretation has no real importance to visitors? What if they don’t come because it’s heritage? Quite a few of the staff involved at … Continue reading It’s just a good day out, or: What if interpretation doesn’t matter?
Last week I attended an excellent workshop on ‘Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions’. Co-production is a central theme in museums at the moment, and participants were encouraged to bring their own experiences of co-production to the workshop for discussion. I came away with a few good points to ponder, which you might find interesting as … Continue reading Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions
I recently read about someone saying that heritage managers and interpreters were ‘selling’ experiences. I’ve already written in a recent blog post how ‘experience’ seems to have been a popular concept for a while now. In fact, even I was raving when the National Trust first changed all interpretation and visitor related job titles, along … Continue reading Selling Experiences?
In a few weeks I will start in a new role. This time around, my job title will be Audience Development Manager. Oddly enough, although my past, current and future responsibilities are largely the same (interpretation), I’ve never had the same job title twice. What troubles me about this is that even within our profession … Continue reading Actually, it’s interpretation. Or: What’s in a job title?
I am indebted to the Association for Heritage Interpretation (UK) for publishing a news item that highlighted the National Trust’s ‘Bench mate’ scheme and a commentary on it in a national newspaper. The latter is particularly refreshing as the voice of someone whose profession is not interpretation. The commentator, a comedian, I’m told, makes a … Continue reading Interpretation…doesn’t trust visitors to have their own thoughts?
During my readings I have come across this interesting quote by West and McKellar : ‘By definition, interpretation as a heritage practice is a western discourse that has become necessary because official heritage has become disconnected from everyday understandings.’ It is a statement worth thinking about in greater depth. Most interpreters would readily agree that … Continue reading Do we interpret heritage because we’re disconnected from it?
The latest issue of the UK Museums Journal gives plenty of evidence of the impact budget cuts have on the museums and heritage sector. English Heritage is about to shut down its entire (!) outreach department, the Victoria and Albert Museum has downgraded its post of Director of Learning and Interpretation to Head of Education … Continue reading Budget cuts: What Sense of Heritage Will We Have Left?
Today I attended a conference titled, ‘The Role of Interpretation in Tourism’. As may be expected, none of the speakers questioned that interpretation was an intrinsic part of any tourism effort. This is not a given however: at a conference a few months ago, the host country’s Director of Tourism unblushingly claimed that interpretation had … Continue reading Interpretation…or Visitor Experience?