For the first time in Europe, an IE’s Certified Interpretive Planner course – CIP – a new Interpret Europe training programme in the field of the interpretation of heritage was held at the end of last year in Rijeka.

As active members of the Interpret Europe association, and considering the great experience in the field of heritage interpretation and interpretation planning, Muses had the honour of being invited to the team that developed the programme of this course.Together with our European colleagues:Peter Seccombe (Great Britain), Michal Medek (Czech Republic) and Helena Vičić (Slovenia), our Dragana Lucija Ratković Aydemir and Ivana Jagić Boljat had contributed to the planning and shaping of this five-day educational programme over the last year. Via numerous correspondence, Skype meetings and several physical meetings, we shared experiences and ideas so that the programme of the course was set up and designed.

Apart from the training of the participants in the field of interpretation planning, the task of this pilot course was to set the standards and frameworks for its programme in the future, and so also present at it were the leader of the European Association for Heritage Interpretation – the general director Thorsten Ludwig and Markus Blank, plus Valya Stergioti, the coordinator of the training programme of the Interpret Europe Association, who was also the official evaluator of the course’s programme.

Rijeka – an ideal host for interpretive planning

In order for this course to be realized, for its organization,we needed a good and reliable partner.In this task,we were joined by the Natural History Museum Rijeka who for the needs of the course provided the space of the museum, as well as much more than that. All of its staff really made an effort and gave their best so that the week of intensive learning was above all pleasant for everyone. In the “Podmornica” (“Submarine”) – an intimate and inspirational multimedia room inside the museum, 30 or so people were accommodated every day.Presentations, interactive exercises and games were held, ideas shared, discussions initiated, and we can say that we all grew and developed in everything together professionally.

Last autumn when we announced the holding of the course in Rijeka, we were surprised by the speed of applications to participate and that more people applied than we had places for. Encouraged by the fact that there was a recognized need and due to the importance of training in the field of interpretation planning, we increased the capacity of the course from 18 to 24 participants and divided the groups into smaller groups. Participants from Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Sweden and Germany took part in the course.

Course structure

After the introductory, general part, when the participants are familiarised with the basic terms and principles of heritage interpretation, they were divided into three groups that worked in three different locations: the Natural History Museum Rijeka, the Governor’s Palace (the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral) and the ship “Galeb.”Each group was divided into several smaller teams. Inspired by many phenomena, stories of heritage and their meanings, the participants touched upon the main principles and elements of interpretation planning, considering heritage, the management of heritage, stakeholders, visitors, the meanings of heritage and the messages which are transmitted, and finally they designed and worked out the most appropriate methods for transmitting the main messages – interpretive media and programmes.

The task of the first group was to re-interpret part of the permanent display of the Natural History Museum which relates to insects. At first glance insects may not be that related to people, however, this group found various ways for visitors to connect to these little creatures, to understand their importance and become ambassadors of their preservation.

The second group had the task of interpreting the Governor’s Palace – its significance and the former life inside it. Interpreting history is always a challenge in itself – different teams established different interesting aspects of the perception of the significance of the palace, and it was interesting to see the messages which they formed and the methods of interpretation of this historically significant symbol of the city of Rijeka.

The third group had the task of conceiving the interpretation of the ship “Galeb” (“Seagull”). The main challenge of the task of this team was the controversial significance of this cultural asset which was once used as the official yacht of the president of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito. In order to solve this, the participants found appropriate and creative ways of the interpretation of “Galeb” primarily to stakeholders – the local population, children, and visitors to the city of Rijeka.

Certified Interpretive Planners

The last day of the course was intended for the presentation of the working tasks, and we can say that the first course about interpretation planning passed successfully and that the ideas which were born here have the potential to be developed into real interpretation projects!

Perhaps in five days isn’t possible to make an interpretation plan, but it is possible via the synergy of 24 attendees and 5 leaders to deliberate about heritage and its interpretation and to inspire one another through considerations, dialogue, innovative and creative ideas and suggestions.In order to become certified interpretation planners, over the following couple of months the participants need to apply the process of interpretation planning to a real example and show that they have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills.

We are exceptionally proud that Muses and Croatia had the opportunity to be part of this first kind of course in Europe, and we look forward to its further development, endeavoring so that the interpretation of heritage in the future is well planned, and that all heritage is interpreted well.

IE’s Certified Interpretive Planner