It’s time to silence the cannons

Historic weapons demonstrations are popular; I get that. Big old guns are cool, and special events where visitors can not only hear them go boom but wear the uniforms and light the fuses sounds like a great time. But something has been bothering me about these programs for a while now, and the further I delve into the work of truth and reconciliation, the more […]

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Staring down the rabbit hole of change

I am an interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor. I work with museums, historic sites, zoos, aquariums, and parks helping them evaluate and improve their relevance, revenue, and attendance. In other words, you call someone like me when things aren’t going as well as they used to—or when you have a vision of how much better things could be. You call me when your visitation […]

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Do interpretive signs change behaviour?

The island where I live likes to put up signs. Our local parks are filled with orientational signs and markers—a lot of them—including some that are only marginally necessary. My favourite is a sign at the top of a trail, in front of the viewpoint. It says… “Viewpoint”. We also have a lot of speed limit signs on the road (in a community where there […]

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Clipboard and pens

Evaluation: The Fuzzy Side

Qualitative or Subjective Evaluation In my previous post, I outlined some quantitative or data-based criteria for evaluating interpretive products. Many of us, though, are just getting started in gathering statistics and evaluations. If you’re weak in the data department, or your boss/client would like their team to weigh in with their judgment on the performance of their products, this article is for you… with a […]

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Evaluating Your Products

When it comes to measuring your success, you can take a numbers-based or a more subjective approach. We’re going to look at doing both, starting with the quantitative. I have written a bit over the last while about program evaluation. You might want to get an intro to my way of thinking by looking at a past post here: For this exercise today, I’m going […]

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A New Certification in Canada

… and an interview with Tracey Gage The Interpretive Guides Association is offering a two-day certification course in interpretation, presented (this time) via Zoom. I have known the folks at IGA for a long time, but I realized that my understanding of what they do is a bit outdated. So I took a little time to talk on the phone with their executive director, Tracey […]

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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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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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