mute swan

The World’s Worst Interpretive Themes

Writing great interpretive themes is not rocket science. Why do we make it so hard? In the world of interpretation, we refer to messages as themes. The word ‘theme’ has different connotations and meanings. Sometimes I wish we didn’t use the term at all; it’s confusing, and this is one area that we really need to get right. Let’s see what the dictionary has to […]

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Learning And The New Visitor Experience Paradigm

Let us talk less about learning, and more about connecting with essence of place, about the forging of links, the fostering of emotions and the long-term making of meaning. This is the conclusion of my series on the Visitor Experience (VE) Revolution. You might want to start with the first chapter, here. I consider myself both a champion and a casualty of the new visitor experience […]

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boy

High Horses, Ivory Towers and the M-Word

This is the third instalment in a series, The Visitor Experience Revolution. You should probably start at part one, here.  I will be presenting this topic at  the National Association for Interpretation’s big workshop coming up next week in Virginia Beach. I hope to see you there. As interpreters, we identify ourselves as educators first and foremost. That is not a bad thing. But with that lofty self-image sometimes comes a sense of superiority […]

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Forest floor, lifted.

Visitor Experience: Out With The Old

This is part two of a series; I suggest you start with the first instalment, here. Understanding our visitors’ needs and desires and trying to facilitate their experiences—both internal and external—very quickly become more important than creating didactic panels and programs. Organizations have started creating departments of Visitor Experience and hiring directors of Visitor Experience, and we are suddenly left to figure out where our old interpretive […]

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Demonstration, Bordeaux

The Visitor Experience Revolution

Has it passed you by? I have been in the interpretation business for a long time. 33 years, in fact (I started when I was two, I swear.) During that time, trends and fashions have come and gone, but in all my years I don’t think I’ve seen anything as fundamental as what I call the visitor experience (VE) revolution. This has been a sea […]

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Autumn in Stanley Park

The Interpretive Atlas

Layer upon layer of stories still to be told… As an interpretive planner, I work with parks, museums and similar organizations to help bring their stories to life for their visitors. And I’m always looking for tools to help my clients visualize new possibilities. It’s sometimes hard to make abstract ideas concrete; that’s true for all interpreters, of course, but it’s particularly true in interpretive planning. More than […]

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Canal, Netherlands

Essence of Place: What is it?

How will you know when you’ve compromised yours? Those of us who are lucky enough to live and work in parks, nature reserves, and historic sites tend to have pretty deep emotional and intellectual attachments to them. We feel, at a deep level, what makes our place special. We know what our place is—and what it isn’t—and we understand how all of its wonderful qualities (its landscape, its history, […]

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Professional development at any budget.

Professional Development… at all costs!

“Wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and design your own professional development plan? If you widen your definition of what professional development actually is, you may be able to do just that.” It is with great pleasure that I present a guest post from my friend and colleague Nicole Cann. Nicole is manager of interpretive delivery at the Vancouver Aquarium. I […]

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zumba

Zumba and the Price of Interpretive Programs

We need to be honest with ourselves about the impact of price on the demand for our programs. More and more in the world of interpretation, we charge fees for our programs. And if you’re like me, you’ve known the frustration of trying to convince your customers that there is monetary value in guided walks or evening programs or gate admissions. It’s a tough sell. […]

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statue and eiffel tower

The Power of the Creative Brief

Think of it as a one-page interpretive plan. Writing a plan is tough work, and writing an interpretation plan is one of the more daunting tasks many of us in the nature-heritage sector face. So daunting, in fact, that many of us would rather chew off an arm than set aside time in our busy weeks to work on any kind of long-term strategy. Recently, I’ve started […]

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