Currently sitting in a session by Dan Schoeneberg: “Building Bridges, Connections and Context: An Introduction to Interpretive Thinking”.
It really doesn’t matter what we do in the museum field: administrators, curators, restoration, registrars, exhibit specialists, educators, etc.; it all comes down to the interpretation that we present to our museums’ guests.
So how do we think as interpreters? We all have different mindsets that form our thinking. Dan is currently showing how our mindsets are shaped and affected by our environment and background.
Social Norms (no, not the guy at the end of the bar) affect us as well. Some of these change over time and some do not. This affects our perception and perspective of events and how we choose to interpret something. Dan is using the example of the Haymarket Incident of 1886. As interpreters we need to leave our personal biases at the door.
Why do I love interpretation? We are talking about the Haymarket Riots, the Japanese Internment Camps of World War II and Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin singing their two versions of “Respect.”
Paraphrased quote from Seleena Kuester: “As interpreters and educators, we have the best toolbox to present the context to provide multiple perspectives to our visitors.”
From Rick Finch: “Every generation lived in the modern times.” We all tend to romanticize the past and think that they had it tough back then, but they all lived in the moment they had and it was up to date for what they knew.
Interpretive exercise: interpreting a coffee cup. Different uses and different contexts. An interesting way to look at what we do.
It is worthwhile for us to revisit our interpretive practices from time to time to help keep things fresh. We need to always look at how we present things to our museum guests.