Interpretation; Management & Practice

I approach interpretation through my combined interests in communication and heritage. I am particularly interested in the need for interpretation to emotionally engage visitors, not merely serving to inform them to but to entertain and connect people with a sense of place. When it comes to heritage, interpretation is the most important piece of marketing a site or organisation has. It conveys the important messages and aims to change attitudes and involve visitors, allowing them to make life changing discoveries.

Immersive Experiences

Our museums, zoos, visitor centres and other heritage attractions are not mere containers of worthy objects or simple spectacle without meaning. These special places have an inherent purpose to communicate messages, which directly involves connecting with us on an emotional level. One approach to this is through the creation of more immersive and engaging visitor experiences. It is through the creation of successful immersive experiences that we may create an emotional connection, directly engaging people and even profoundly affecting them.

 

My research focused on differing approaches to creating emotionally engaging visitor experiences. Through scrutity of contemporary theory as well as field work, I examine the phenomenon of the immersive experience and explore it in practice. Finally, I argue for recognition of affect, a vital component of connection, such an important aspect of interpretation.

Nevis Range Mountain Discovery Centre

I undertook the development of an interpretation plan for Nevis Range, Fort William, which could be used as the foundation on which to improve the basic interpretation in the 'Mountain Discovery Centre', provide staff with a basic understanding of interpretation, and serve as the basis for future planning. The advent of skiing on Aonach Mor and the creation of the ski area has its own rich heritage, and is close to the heart of many of the current staff, as well as helping to define Fort William as an outdoor capital. Almost everyone in the town has a connection to the ski centre. Now, as the host of the mountain bike world cup, and with a history of sustainable development, there is a great opportunity to really connect visitors to the diversity and richness of the area. Following staff consultations and review of the current provision, and with acknowledged constraints firmly in mind, this plan was produced.  

Shaping the Landscape

For the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership I managed the delivery of a geology exhibition for the Clyde and Avon Valleys, exploring how the area's physical features underpin all life in and around the valleys, from how people move around and where they live, to the varied industry and even the natural heritage.

 

Working with Abound Design and CMC Associates, a multi-sensory, interactive exhibition, utilising principals of immersive exhibition design was produced and is hosted at New Lanark World Heritage Site. Techniques include a soundscape, large scale visuals and light projections, digital and physical interactives, videos, sound recordings and hands-on activities. In addition to being the only exhibition of its kind in the area, its location provides the New Lanark visitor experience with the ability to offer a more complete narrative right back to the origins of the site. After all, geology is the reason for the rivers, and consequently New Lanark Mill's very existence.

Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership

A start-up interpretation guide to help community groups and individuals to start thinking about the aims of interpretation, the planning process and next steps. Published by Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (www.clydeandavonvalley.org).

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Association for Heriatge Interpretaton
Associate Member

Telling Stories

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