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Interpreting Our Heritage [Paperback]

Freeman Tilden , Russell E. Dickenson , R. Bruce Craig
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 18 2008
Every year millions of Americans visit national parks and monuments, state and municipal parks, battlefield areas, historic houses, and museums. By means of guided tours, exhibits, and signs, visitors to these areas receive a very special kind of education through the interpretation of informative materials. For fifty years, "Interpreting Our Heritage" has been an indispensable sourcebook for those who are responsible for and who respond to such interpretive materials. This anniversary edition includes an entirely new selection of photographs, six additional essays by Freeman Tilden, and a new foreword and introduction that put this classic work into perspective for present and future generations. Whether the problem is to make a prehistoric site come to life or to explain the geological theory behind a particular rock formation, Tilden provides helpful principles to follow. For anyone interested in our natural and manmade heritage, this book offers guidance for exploring educational and recreational resources.

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Product Description


"[A] seminal book which may inspire yet another generation of park rangers." -- "Reflections"

About the Author

FREEMAN TILDEN (1883-1980) was a pioneer in the field of cultural interpretation. A former journalist, playwright, and novelist, he began writing about America's national parks in the 1940s with the encouragement of the National Park Service director. This led to four books on visiting, learning, and teaching about national heritage sites, of which Interpreting Our Heritage remains the most influential.

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First Sentence
THE WORD interpretation as used in this book refers to a public service that has so recently come into our cultural world that a resort to the dictionary for a competent definition is fruitless. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars interpretation is an art form! March 20 2004
Interpretation is the art of making what is presented meaningful to the audience. This book is useful for anyone who wants to get others interested in a subject, whether it is for a presentation, an art exhibit, or the local park's visitor center. If an exhibit, lecture, presentation, or tour does or does not get you interested in the topic, this book will explain most of the reasons why. This is all sound wisdom, offered in the context of museums and national parks. It's easy to read and engaging, employing the principles within.
I. Talk about what is being desplayed/described to the personality or experience of the visitor.
II. Interpretation is revelation based on information.
III. Interpretation is an art.
IV. The goal is provocation, not instruction.
V. Try to present the whole instead of the part.
VI. Don't just dumb it down for kids.
Tilden elaborates on these beautifully, with nice examples.
After reading this book not only do I know how to improve upon my own interpretation, but I can critique other interpretation and at least know when to appreciate a good display when I see one. Just remember that there are more than 6 principles. Use this book to start thinking about interpretation as a skill and an art, instead of the bible of interpretation.
Interpretation for the 21st Century: Fifteen Guiding Principles for Interpreting Nature and Culture is an updated version recommended to me but I haven't read it yet.
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It's a short book, but packs a powerful message! Tilden is to Environmental Interpretation what Muir was to the environmental movement. His principles are quoted at national converences on interpretation. The chapters are concise and easy to read. Great first manual for anyone who wishes to do great public speaking or a professional who needs to be reminded of the basics!
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By A Customer
It's a decent, reasonable somewhat giddy book on interpreting the natural world. It is also practically required that National Park Service ranger's follow Tilden's principles for interpretation. So if you ever want to be a National Park Service Ranger, it'd be great to have this under your belt!
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