Chapter 1


--Before NPS

--The Park Service Assumes Responsibility

--Interpretation Institutionalized

Chapter 2

--Branching Into History

--The Importance of Historical Interpretation

--Inagurating the Program

--Historical Challenges

Chapter 3

--New Directions

--Audiovisual Innovations

--Museums, Visitor Centers, and the New Look

--Living History

--Environmental Interpretation

--Women in Interpretation

--Other Agendas

Chapter 4

--Interpreting Interpretation

Chapter 5

--Interpretation In Crisis






--Branching Into History

--New Directions

--Interpreting Interpretation

--Interpretation in Crisis



by Barry Mackintosh

History Division
National Park Service
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.


"Although the National Park Service did not invent interpretation, that organization was largely responsible for the broad public recognition of its values in developing understanding and appreciation of nature and history. . . . the national park service effectively modified formal educational pocesses to arouse the latent interests and desires of park visitors, and, as a result of ever-increasing numbers of such visitors over the years, interpretation has become practically a household word."

So wrote C. Frank Brockman, retired from a long career at Mount Rainier National Park, in the January 1978 Journal of Forest History. Brockman's excellent article, "Park Naturalists and the Evolution of National Park Service Interpretation through World War II," reflected his background and interests as a naturalist. The present account, reflecting its author's background as a park historian, is correspondingly weighed toward historical interpretation By no means does it pretend to tell the entire story. Instead it focuses on guiding concepts, trends, special emphases, and problem areas that have most concerned those responsible for interpretation.

Interpreters are a critical lot, seldom hesitant to note when their performance falls short of the ideal. From this history, present and future interpreters will be reminded that most of the problems they face have precedents. Knowing this may not solve the problems, but it should help to put them in perspective.



Last Modified: July 9, 2000 09:35:00 pm PST

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