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Definition

"Interpretation means all the ways of presenting the cultural significance of a place."

Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, 1999

For the project, the working definition of interpretation is: The media/activities through which a museum carries out its mission and education role.

  • Interpretation is a dynamic process of communication between the museum and the audience.
  • Interpretation is the means by which the museum delivers its content.
  • Interpretation media/activities include but are not limited to: exhibits, tours, web sites, classes, school programs, publications, outreach.

National Interpretation Project, American Association of Museums

"Interpretation" is defined as the activities through which a museum carries out its mission and educational role: Interpretive media/activities include, but are not limited to: exhibits, tours, web sites, classes, school programs, publications, outreach.

There are three general characteristics of exemplary interpretation:

  1. Strategy/Content
  2. Enabling Factors
  3. Access/Deliver

Each characteristic has distinct, supporting elements.

Characteristics of Exemplary Interpretation: A Working Document, National Interpretation Project, American Association of Museums

Standards

Excellence and Equity Principles

  1. Assert that museums place education — in the broadest sense of the word — at the center of their public service roles. Assure that the commitment to serve the public is clearly stated in every museum's mission and central to every museum's activities.
  2. Reflect the diversity of our society by establishing and maintaining the broadest possible public dimension for the museum.
  3. Understand, develop, expand, and use the learning opportunities that museums offer their audiences.
  4. Enrich our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of our collections and of the variety of cultures and ideas they represent and evoke.
  5. Assure that the interpretive process manifests a variety of cultural and intellectual perspectives and reflects an appreciation for the diversity of museums' public.
  6. Engage in active ongoing collaborative efforts with a wide spectrum of organizations and individuals who can contribute to the expansion of the museum's public dimension.
  7. Assess the decision-making processes in museums and develop new models that enable an expanded public dimension and a renewed commitment to excellence.
  8. Achieve diversity among trustees, staff, and volunteers to assure a breadth of perspective throughout the museum.
  9. Provide professional development and training for new and established professionals, trustees, and volunteers that meet the needs of the museum profession so that museums may carry out their responsibilities to their diverse public.
  10. Commit leadership and financial resources — in individual museums, professional organizations, and training organizations and universities — to strengthen the public dimension of museums.

Excellence and Equity/New Visions Initiatives, American Association of Museums.

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