Interpretive & Visitor Services - Technical Assistance available from the National Heritage Area
Interpretation - Speaking the Language of History
What is interpretation?
The definition of interpretation according to the National Association for Interpretation is:
“A mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and meanings inherent in the resource.”
Interpretation is the science and art of helping people understand and feel connected to an area’s natural or cultural heritage. It’s more than just the facts, but includes thought-provoking information and encompasses deeper meanings. Museums and parks spend time and resources on making their exhibits and programs effective. There’s only a small amount of time and space to convey to the visitors why they should care about the particular resource, so it takes some expertise and effort.
Effective interpretation is enjoyable and helps visitors connect themselves to whatever may be the story of the place. For example, you could have no interest in baseball, but if you visit a baseball museum and you enjoy it, there’s a good chance the exhibits provided excellent interpretation. You may have learned about competition, sacrifice, equal rights, or overcoming obstacles. In other words, the human story behind the sport came through. That’s great interpretation because it might inspire and educate many people beyond avid baseball fans.
The Role of the Interpretive Coordinator in the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area
The Interpretive Coordinator provides direct technical assistance for most visitor-related topics, or can direct you to the right resources to meet your needs, as well as assist Canalway partners with an interpretive perspective on any of the following:
- Interpretive/Docent Training
- Interpretive Planning
- Exhibit & Program Planning
- Signage & Trail Plans
- Visitor Center/Museum/Park Plans
- Volunteer Programs
Currently, this position is in transition. In the interim, please contact Jennie Vasarhelyi, Chief of Interpretation, Education & Visitor Services, Cuyahoga Valley National Park with your questions.
Phone: 440.546.5990; Fax: 440.546.5989; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about putting interpretation to work, read a White Paper on Interpretive Storytelling
that features comments from our most recent Interpretive Coordinator Nancy Desmond.
Source: Cleveland-based brand and design firm Studio Graphique.
Join In! Additional Canalway Interpretive Services
Throughout the year, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Interpretive group offers field trips and free classes for our Canalway Partners.
Annually, the Regional Ohio & Erie Canalway Interpretive group offers field trips and free classes for our Canalway Partners. These trips rotate among the four Canalway Counties - Tuscarawas, Stark, Summit and Cuyahoga. Here's a look back at past events!
1) Interpretive Field Visit - Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Summit County - Tours, Canalway Questing, More
Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 - Event also includes pre-visit to Summit Metro Parks Nature Realm & post-event reception on the back porch of the Summit County Historical Society
Past Events Archive
Experience Cleveland & Canal Basin Park - 6/11/14
A Regional Canalway Interpretive Event
This is a great opportunity for staff and volunteers who work with Canalway visitors and tourists to network, while broadening their knowledge of Canalway assets and the visitor experience. This year's focus is on Cleveland and is our first evening event - in response to attendees' requests.
- Tour the newest section of Towpath - Scranton Flats
- Go on a Canal Basin Park Take a Hike Tour
- Enjoy performances of canal-era music, learn about the upcoming Canal Basin Park & more!
- Enjoy presentations & dinner at The Flat Iron
2) Free Classes –
Be on the lookout for a Training Session centered on Interpretive Writing.
Annually, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Interpretive group offers field trips and free classes for our Canalway Partners. These trips rotate among the four Canalway Counties - Tuscarawas, Stark, Summit and Cuyahoga. Here's a look back at past events!
Experience Massillon - July 8th, 2013
A Canalway Interpretive Event
Interpretive and Visitor-facing staff came from all four Canalway Counties came to experience an Interpretive view of Massillon and intersections with Canalway travel routes - the America's Byway, Towpath Trail and CVSR.
Massillon Art Museum, Historic Alley & Mural Tours, Lions Lincoln Theater - America's Oldest Movie Theater, & more!
Experience Akron - July 18th, 2012
A Canalway Interpretive Event
Nearly 50 folks came to experience an Interpretive view of Akron and intersections with Canalway travel routes - the America's Byway, Towpath Trail and CVSR. p tourists to network while broadening their knowledge of Canalway assets and the visitor experience.
- Hike, Skywalk Tour, Art Museum, Trolley Rides, Questing and more!
- Last year's flyer:
Evaluating Visitor Services
The Visitor Services arena can encompass any service that visitors access. The underlying premise is that visitors cannot enjoy or appreciate all a site has to offer if they are uncomfortable, confused or feel unwelcome.
Therefore, review the following questions as they relate to your site:
- Are your signs clear, welcoming and well-written?
- Is your site easy-to-use and handicap accessible?
- Is your staff friendly and knowledgeable?
- Are your exhibits/tours engaging & offered at appropriate times and levels?
- Are your hours convenient for your visitors?
- Have you considered providing the following services, as appropriate to your site: refreshments, restrooms, seating, lighting, heating/air conditioning?
- Are all the site’s equipment and exhibits in working order?
Interpretive Resources - Books, Sites & More
Online Training Source - http://idp.eppley.org/training
- Developed in part with National Park Service funding to support education and training about and for the National Parks. Sponsored by Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands and National Park Service Training and Development.
Interpretive Glossary of Terms
Canallers or Canawlers
Nature and culture
(As defined by the National Association for Interpretation www.interpnet.com
Interpretation is a mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between
interests of the audience and meanings inherent in the resource. (As defined by the National Association for Interpretation)
The naturally or culturally significant things that make your site important, such as a forest, meadow or an historic
house or canal.
This arena can encompass any service that visitors access. The underlying premise is that visitors cannot enjoy or
appreciate all a site has to offer if they are uncomfortable, confused or feel unwelcome.