What is effective interpretation?

imagesCAWYC3UIFuente: Kohen, R. and Sikoryak, K. (1999). Comprehensive Interpretive Planning, pp. 25


What is effective interpretation?

Effective interpretation creates opportunities for people to forge their own intellectual and emotional connections with the meanings inherent in the resources that constitute their natural and cultural heritage.

The desire to facilitate those connections leads individuals to become interpreters, and organizations to provide interpretative services. The effectiveness of an interpretive service –and plan from which it was developed – is measured against how well it facilitates those connections.


What does a practical and effective plan for providing interpretative services look like?


A wide range of conditions and issue that affect the interpretative program are considered in the interpretative planning process –thoughtfully, inclusively, and comprehensively. This plan forms the overall vision and basis for decision-making relating to the interpretative program. Its comprehensive nature:

  • Describes a log-range vision for the program
  • Includes an integrated annual implementation plan that moves the program toward achieving the long-range vision, one year at a time
  • Addresses both personal interpretative services (talks, walks, classroom presentations, etc.) and nonpersonal interpretative services (media such as exhibits, publications, films, formal education curricula, etc)
  • Addresses all providers of interpretative services, including partners of the organization
  • Involves management, interpretive and non-interpretative staff, partners, and other stakeholders in the interpretive planning process (from the beginning onward)
  • Addresses diverse audiences and conveys the organization´s messages from multiple perspectives
  • Includes references to sources of information useful to the interpretive program
  • Is flexible enough to quickly and effectively adapt to changing resource and visitor needs, thereby maintaining its operational relevance

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