Warehouse in Buenos Aires

We don’t need to endorse in order to interpret.

Over the course of my forty-year career (yikes!) I have made a long shift from natural history to cultural history interpretation. The transition has been… interesting. See, when you interpret birds or rocks or stars, you generally don’t argue for those things’ moral goodness or purity. Yes, you might defend their place within their ecosystem …

spider

Marketing: An Interpretive Approach

As a visitor experience advisor, I find that a lot of my work revolves around helping parks, historic sites, and museums do a better job of communicating who they are in an inspiring way. Naturally, as a life-long interpreter, I am a huge believer in the content-based approach. I’m not alone in this; content marketing …

a group of men in the street dressed mostly alike

Understanding Audiences: The Downside of “Falk Types”

About twenty years ago, Dr. John Falk and Dr. Lynn Dierking did a body of research on why people visit museums and other informal learning institutions. It’s fascinating and valuable stuff, and if you get a chance to read their work, you really should. They discovered that, broadly speaking, people have a handful of different …

It’s time to give the objects back.

Virtually all arguments against repatriating Indigenous objects are rooted in white supremacy. Hey reader, did you ever have your bike stolen? I have more than once, and while I have never been successful in getting my bike back (thousands of them are stolen weekly in most cities, apparently), I’d like to take you through a …

Let Your Data Tell A Story

Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that as an interpretive planner, I’m a strong believer in evidence-based decision making. One of my challenges has always been in trying to communicate the importance of data—visitation patterns, visitor demographic information, analyses of program evaluations, and the like—in such a way that …

blue hydrangea flower

Stakeholder is not a dirty word.

As an interpretive planner, part of my job is helping parks, heritage sites, zoos, and aquariums identify the people around them whose lives or work will be affected by what they’re doing. So, early on in the interpretive planning process, I ask if we can sit down and identify their stakeholders. And more and more, …

The Membership Conundrum

Memberships aren’t what they used to be.  Is your organization struggling with its membership program? Are you having a tough time keeping your membership numbers up? You’re not alone.  Membership has always been a cornerstone of the nonprofit model: any society or association is by definition a group of like-minded people working together. And while …