exterior point ellice house

Covid and Museums: A Gentle Re-Opening

It seems that so many of us are working through some kind of COVID-19 reopening plan right now. I thought I would do a case study to see how a museum in my part of the world is dealing with the challenge. Here is an interview with Dr. Kelly Black, executive director at Point Ellice House in Victoria, BC. So what’s the plan? How will […]

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Of Bats and Myths (and sloppy interpreters)

Myth Making From time to time in my career, I have seen interpretive myths that seem to propagate from interpreter to intepreter. I have seen some doozies over the years. Some day, ask me to tell you about the lobsters running each fall up the Miramichi River. Here’s one circulating at the moment: “We need to conserve bats in Canada because they are important pollinators!” […]

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What is Experiential Interpretation?

In the fall of 2020, I will be offering a workshop in Experiential Interpretation. Thinking ahead to the course, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time researching and pondering what that actually means. Interpretation is experiential when the interpreter uses a recognizable activity as the structure of the program, and imposes passive listening on the audience less than 10% of the time. It uses […]

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sunlight, west coast trail

Freelance Dreams

This is a continuation of last week’s column in which I address some of the questions I couldn’t fully answer during my workshop Interpretation and the Gig Economy at the National Association for Interpretation’s national workshop in Denver. What advice would you give to a seasonal employee who is still developing their resume and to eventually be in a position to be freelance? There are […]

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Interpretation and the Gig Economy

This week I had the pleasure of presenting at the National Association for Interpretation’s national conference in Denver, CO. For the first time, I gathered questions in real-time using an interactive online tool (sli.do). It was good fun, but I wasn’t able to answer all the questions in a one-hour session. Over the next few weeks, I will answer the questions I received, starting with… […]

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VERSUS: Debate Club meets Wrestle Mania

Welcome to my new series, Innovators. With this project I’m hoping to highlight people who are pushing the boundaries of interpretation, science communication, and educational visitor experience. And I’m pretty excited to feature, as the first instalment in the series, something about which you may have only dreamed until now: cabaret for total science nerds, otherwise known as VERSUS, brought to you by Dustin Growick, […]

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Interpretive Planning: Spice Girls Edition

I’m an interpretive planner and visitor experience consultant, and when I start a new project with a client, we spend a fair bit of time identifying goals. We often start with a blank-slate, blue-sky approach: “So! What are we trying to achieve here?” But the more I do this goal-setting business, it occurs to me that in our line of work, there’s only so many […]

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Four Hard Questions

Before you start developing your visitor experience product Why here? The first question asks you to evaluate your product concept against your heritage destination’s essence of place. Why on earth should that program, exhibit, facility, viewpoint, whatever be here? How does it honour this place and bring it to life? We are in the business of connecting people to place. We are not in the […]

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Where is your strategic iconic photography?

Part of the work I do in visitor experience planning involves defining essence of place—those heritage values, tangible and intangible, that define your site. It’s a fun exercise but it can be a little bit abstract at first: what exactly is a tangible heritage value, anyway? A great place to start is simply by asking workshop participants to find six iconic images of their heritage […]

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Crafting a Visitor Journey

What is a visitor journey? A visitor journey is an interpretive planning tool that outlines what the visitor sees and does in your proposed visitor experience. It’s closely related to the ‘user story’ that software and app developers use: before you get into the nuts and bolts of coding (or in our case, writing and designing) you first make sure the product makes sense from […]

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