Goals: To examine examples of archeological interpretation, such as plans and multimedia examples.
Archeological resources at Mesa Verde National Park. NPS photo.
Explore case studies of archeological interpretation.
The following interpretive plans demonstrate how archaeological interpretation, from a planning/management perspective, fits into the goals and structure of parks.
Long Range Plan, Jamestown, Colonial National Historical Park (June 2000) (.pdf file) The plan is a 5-10 year vision for the interpretation of Jamestown, considered the first permanent English settlement in the New World. The plan incorporates new information from historical and archeological investigations, and ideas on its application into exhibits and public programs.
A Plan for the Interpretation of Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (May 1993) (.pdf file) The plan was written to guide media planners and designers in the development and implementation of media production plans. It also provides guidance for park managers and interpretive program managers by identifying and delineating the various elements into time frames.
For Your Consideration
The questions and issues below offer a framework for looking at a site holistically - whether a case study or at your own museum or park. The questions should help determine interpretive opportunities and areas that need more attention or support.
Site and Structure questions establish the facts about the park.
- What is the background history of the place?
- What is its stated mission?
- What are its facilities and personnel?
- How do the institutional budget and other funding sources support interpretation and archeology?
- Are statistics or information kept about visitors? Who are the visitors?
Content of Archeology and Interpretation questions address the process of making interpretive choices in the plans. They also provide issues to consider when planning for your own park or museum.
- What kind of interplay occurs between interpreters and the public?
- What interpretive themes are presented?
- How does archeology fit or expand the mission?
- What is the relationship is between data collection and interpretation?
- What is the relationship is between the place and its region?
- What kinds of archeological resources are used in interpretation?
- How are archeological resources integrated with other kinds of resources for interpretation?
- What issues are grappled with (i.e. authenticity, technology, contested history, putting forth different viewpoints)?
- Is stewardship explicitly addressed? What kinds of interpretive products address stewardship? How?
- How does archeological interpretation reach or address different audiences?
For your information
Review the following sections from Interpretation for Archeologists to learn about audiences and approaches: