Interpreting heritage

Develop an interpretation plan and share the story of your heritage place.

The aim of interpretation is to tell the stories about what makes a place significant and to create advocates for heritage conservation. Interpretation is also a vital element of any heritage tourism product.

There are some excellent resources available to help with the development of interpretation. Museums Australia (WA) and the National Trust of Australia (WA) have produced an excellent guide to interpretation called Sharing our Stories, which can be downloaded for free.

Another excellent document is A Sense of Place – Interpretive Handbook that was published in 1997 by a number of government agencies in Scotland and provides an excellent resource for people starting to develop interpretation.

The Heritage Council has produced an Interpretation guide, which aims to make interpretation easy to understand, plan and deliver. The guide contains a step-by-step process to create an interpretation plan. The New South Wales Heritage Office of Environment and Heritage also has many excellent free publications relating to heritage interpretation and experience development including heritage trails.

One of the most important issues when looking at heritage is deciding whether it is significant. This can apply to a building or individual artefacts. The Collections Council of Australia has created an excellent publication that shows you how to assess the significance of your collection.

Professional organisations

There are several organisations in Australia and internationally that provide a focus for interpretation professionals.

Interpretation Australia Association (IAA) is the peak body for interpreters in Australia. They provide professional development, information and an annual conference.  There are also state chapters that provide the opportunity to meet with fellow professionals close to home. 

The National Association of Interpreters (NAI) is a US-based organisation. They have numerous certifications and qualifications that they offer to interpretation professionals as well as a number of other resources. 

The Association of Heritage Interpreters is a UK-based organisation that focuses on creating excellence in interpretation.

Funding

Organisations such as Lotterywest offer funding for interpretation. See the Heritage incentives page for more information.

Page last reviewed 28 June 2019
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