This document, published by the National Trust of Australia, presents seven heritage interpretation principles and associated case studies that have been selected specifically to assist the interpretation of Australia’s heritage. While they are specific to Australia’s heritage both at home and abroad the basic principles are applicable to effective interpretation of heritage places worldwide.
1. To trigger and maintain an interest, the interpretation must relate the subject to the lives of the people in their audience.
2. Information, as such, is not interpretation. The purpose of interpretation goes beyond providing information to reveal deeper and wider meaning (context). However, all interpretation includes information.
3. The interpretive presentation should be designed as a story that informs, engages, entertains, and enlightens the visitor. The purpose of the interpretation story is to inspire and to provoke people to broaden their horizons. Interpretation should make people consider the place visited in a wider perspective.
4. Interpretation should present a complete theme or thesis and address the whole person.
5. Interpretation addressed to children and young teenagers should not be a dilution of the presentation to adults, but should follow a fundamentally different approach. To be at its best it will require a separate programme.
6. Every place or collection has a history of its own and its own place in history. Interpretation should bring the past alive to make the present more enjoyable and the future more meaningful.
7. Technology can reveal the world in exciting new ways. However, incorporating this technology into the interpretive program must be done with foresight and thoughtful care. (Pressing a button on a digital display should instantly reveal engaging information).
The National Trusts use two further guiding documents to develop and implement interpretation programmes for their properties: