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WESSENTIAL CONCEPTS AND STRATEGIES FOR TODAY’S INTERPRETIVE PLANNERS

HEN IS “INTERPRETATION” not interpretation? This question came up a short time ago regarding “interpretive” panels from a discussion on LinkedIn. My response was that most interpretive panels I have seen were not “interpretive” panels at all… But “informational”, educational, or “lots-of-words, pictures-graphics-and-text-within-a-usually-square-boxstuck-on-a-stick” panels.

But they were not interpretive. Why not? Because the main guiding principles of interpretation were not used in developing them. They were made to look “attractive”, but missed the actual successful delivery (interpretation) of the message. So here is my rant – what makes interpretation “interpretive”? My biggest issue is with “interpretive” designers or consultants who have never had any actual training at all in interpretation – yet design “interpretive” stuff, not knowing what the key principles of interpretive design actually are. Like saying you’re a doctor even though you have never been to medical school. So we get a lot of interpretation that isn’t!

The definition of interpretation

Interpretation is a communication process designed to reveal meanings and relationships of our natural and cultural heritage to the public, through firsthand experiences and involvement with objects, artifacts, landscapes, programs, services, media or sites.

– Interpretation Canada, 1976, modified by the author

JOHN A VEVERKA | 9

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