Marie was in Poland last week at the annual Interpret Europe conference, which brings together interpretation professionals from museums, national parks and a variety of heritage sites across Europe and even drew a few friends from further afield, including the USA, Canada, Australia and Israel. A total of 30 countries were represented.
The theme for this year was ‘Sensitive Heritage, Sensitive Interpretation’ and many questions were raised about the best way to communicate difficult or sensitive issues and messages to our visitors, who owns heritage and the implications this may have when the content is of a sensitive nature (which, bearing in mind our location in Poland, close to the Auschwitz concentration camps from WWII, was a very topical issue to debate), and how best to interpret messages in natural landscapes where we need to be sensitive to the needs of wildlife.
Marie presented some case studies of our work, including Cors Dyfi Reserve in Wales where we designed interpretation and assisted with architectural plans for an observatory to sit aesthetically into a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and discussed the sensitive issue of addressing illegal shooting of wildfowl, which our parent organisation, WWT, has been working on for years in the effort to safeguard migratory swans and which we are currently discussing with colleagues in the Middle East.
The conference was a great platform for participants to share best practise and it was not all in a lecture theatre – we enjoyed several excellent field visits to continue discussing interpretation techniques appropriate to all of our experience.