what is interpretation?

Interpretation is primarily a communication process that helps people  make sense of, and understand more about, your site, collection or event. It can:

  • Bring meaning to your cultural or environmental resource, enhancing visitor appreciation and promoting better understanding. As a result your visitors are more likely to care for what they identify as a precious resource.
  • Enhance the visitor experience, resulting in longer stays and repeat visits. This will lead to increased income and create  employment opportunities.
  • Enable communities to better understand their heritage, and to express their own ideas and feelings about their home area. As a result individuals may identify with lost values inherent in their culture.

Freeman Tilden, one of the founders of modern interpretation, defined it as “An educational activity which aims to reveal meaning and relationships through the use of original objects, by first-hand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information”. After 50 years, this is still one of the clearest insights into the role of the interpreter.

Heritage interpreters come from all walks of life. They are teachers, storytellers, writers, artists, curators, designers and scientists. They are often creative and usually passionate about nature, history or art. Above all, they are gifted communicators in one way or another.

Heritage interpreters are also professionals with their own professional body – the Association for Heritage Interpretation.

what is AHI? >>