Interpretation is a word used in the museum situation to denote the function of creating information about collections. Most often this sector deals with text read on walls, like labels and panels. The term for me isn’t quite right. It sounds like you are translating between audiences, implying the need for an intercessor. I do like that the word sounds like a process, in opposition to the word used for this function in the non-museum world, content. The latter word has some benefits. I know content is a made up word, but it is also the made-up word that most of the world knows. Search for content development in Google, and you will see how much currency “content” has in society.

In each of these, you are offering information about your collection. In every one people are connect to your organization. Every piece of information on this chart is a type of information. And the patron is looking for learning on some level, but the learning needs to be tailored to the media.

All these issues of nomenclature aside,  interpretation, for lack of a better term, is much more than labels. Ideally, you should come up with a strategy for communicating about your collection broadly. When you do that, think about the many ways you are sharing ideas. This graphic just breaks out the common textual forms of interpretation. Ideally, you would look at all the forms of interpretation within your ecosystem. (Thinking about this ecosystem will be the topic of an upcoming post. So check back.)

 

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This is the second in a series of posts about considering Interpretation and Content to Meet Today’s Visitor’s Needs.

Previous Posts:

Are Museums Writing for Today’s Audience? Looking at the Changes in Literacy & Knowledge-Creation in Society

Labels in the world of Information Overload

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