When most people hear the word interpreter, they think of someone who translates the meaning of one language into another. In a museum, zoo, or park setting, interpreters “translate” the meanings of artifacts, collections, events, and physical resources into a language that helps visitors understand these resources.
Another term for interpreters could be visitor experience specialists. They provide information, orientation, and inspiration in the right amounts and at the right times, so that visitors will have more enjoyable, meaningful experiences.
While many definitions exist, the National Park Service defines interpretation as “a catalyst in creating opportunities for the audience to form their own intellectual and emotional connections with the meanings and significance inherent in the resource.”
Building from the work of early contributors (John Muir, Enos Mills, Freeman Tilden), the National Park Service has provided a venue for collegial debate and discussion to define the elements of successful interpretation.
To Learn More about the evolution of Interpretation in the National Park Service, go to the website:
Last revised 14-Jul-13