Hikers on a mountain top

Interpreters in the Experience Economy

Every great travel experience has three parts: the anticipation, the realization, and the recollection. Those of us who deliver interpretive programs—guided walks, talks, workshops, dialogues, and the like—have long placed ourselves squarely in the second of those three phases: the delivery/realization of the visit.  With the shift in recent years to new communications tools, it’s …

person walking away from tree in silhouette

A swing and a miss: NAI’s new definition of interpretation

If I didn’t already know what interpreters do, this definition wouldn’t tell me. The National Association for Interpretation has released their newly-updated definition of interpretation. It’s a project they’ve been working on for three years; I’m going to take a moment to try to describe to you why I think it’s a bit of a, …

Shuttered church, Battleford SK

Interpretive Storytelling and the Problem of Appropriation

“Can I tell this story?” As an interpretive planner and writer, I find I’m hearing this question more and more often: how do we Settlers know when a story is appropriate for us to tell? How do we know if we have the right to tell it? When is interpretive storytelling a form of cultural …

3d interpretive sign

Interpretive Signs: Don’t Neglect the Base

If you’re not investing in the 3D elements of your interpretive sign, you’re missing a powerful opportunity to connect people to your message. (Note: the visual examples here are not my work. Click to follow through to the presenting agency.) About ten years ago when I started producing interpretive signs, I gave zero thought to …

Do you need a Visitor Experience Strategy?

About ten years ago, when I was an employee at Parks Canada, we identified a need for more holistic planning. We already had tools such as management plans, marketing plans, and interpretive plans: what was missing was something to tie it all together. The Visitor Experience (VE) Strategy was born. It’s an ambitious, high-level kind …

The streets of Montevideo

Do your staff represent your community?

What are some common barriers to staff diversity in the heritage sector? “We only hire the most qualified people, and they just aren’t coming from those communities.” This is probably the most common copout, er, response from museum leadership: we only hire the best, regardless of what their background is, and the best just happen …