Museum and Site Interpretation
This course provides an overview of communication and interpretation issues relating to museums, sites and other heritage attractions. Topics include:
- learning and communication theories;
- audience description;
- visitor communication needs;
- public relations;
- the visitor studies literature;
- why, when and how to conduct visitor and marketing studies;
- the preparation of communicative projects;
- project management;
- writing interpretative texts;
- the range of communications media (including visitor centres and exhibitions);
- museum and heritage education;
- publication activities;
- 'front of house' issues;
- use of volunteers; and
Aims of the course
This course aims:
- to foster a broad understanding of the general principles of effective communication with visitors to museums and heritage sites which is based on sound practice, research and theory grounded in the communication, museum studies, cultural studies, learning theory and visitor studies literature; and
- to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning through the provision of supportive practical exercises and assessments.
On successful completion of this course you should be able to:
- understand how museums and heritage sites can communicate with visitors through exhibition planning and design;
- actively consider various media and interpretive techniques and recognise their usefulness in effective communication with audiences;
- recognise the importance of visitor studies and evaluation in the development of exhibitions and other services;
- discuss the ways in which theories of communication and learning can inform the work with museum media;
- assess the impact of wider political agendas and current thinking on museums and heritage sites;
- understand the relationship of museums and heritage sites to other cultural and educational institutions and their place within the educational infrastructure;
- recognise the need for educational facilities and programmes for different visitor groups and communities;
- reflect on and evaluate current best practice in the development of spaces and services that communicate effectively and foster a wide range of learning experiences;
- reflect on how they, as individuals, work in a team and to consider team functioning as an activity.
On successful completion of this course you should be able to demonstrate:
- a critical awareness of the principles of communication with audiences in informal learning environments;
- the development of intellectually satisfying and employable skills which will have a positive effect on communication with audiences in museums and heritage sites.
- the development of confident and independent thought through exposure to practical situations.
The course is taught via lectures by the course co-ordinator and visiting speakers, as well as workshops, practical exercises, fieldwork and study visits. The latter aim to give students greater familiarity with the material/methods and techniques covered in the course. The course also includes follow-up work and oral presentations by the students details of which will be given in class in Term 1.