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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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Every year millions of Americans visit national parks and monuments, state and municipal parks, battlefields, historic houses, and museums. By means of guided walks and talks, tours, exhibits, and signs, visitors experience these areas through a very special kind of communication technique known as "interpretation." For fifty years, Freeman Tilden's Interpreting Our Heritage has been an indispensable sourcebook for those who are responsible for developing and delivering interpretive programs. This expanded and revised anniversary edition includes not only Tilden's classic work but also an entirely new selection of accompanying photographs as well as five additional essays by Tilden on the art and craft of interpretation. Whether the challenge is to make a prehistoric site come to life; to explain the geological basis behind a particular rock formation; to touch the hearts and minds of visitors to battlefields, historic homes, and sites; or to teach a child about the wonders of the natural world, Tilden's book, with its explanation of the famed "six principles" of interpretation, provides a guiding hand. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Jan. 25 2002
Ok, so in parts you can definitely tell this book was written in the 50's. However most of it is still extremely valid, and extremely useful. I would not hesitate to reccomend it, a very good read for interpreters or interpreters in training.
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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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