The Heritage Interpretation Manual provides a comprehensive insight into the interpretive planning process: it highlights the necessity and benefits of involving the local community, reveals the importance of phased work, as well as the importance of clearly defining the area of action. Its value also stems from the fact that it presents the terminology of heritage interpretation in one place, which, as a still-young discipline in Croatia, lacks consensus even about frequently used terms.
The publication was realised as part of the KRASn’KRŠ project, which brought together Slovenian and Croatian organisations dedicated to the study and interpretation of karst heritage. The main goal of the project is to preserve karst heritage through the establishment of a sustainable destination KRASn’KRŠ, in which, according to the principles of sustainable tourism, four typical types of karst landscape are promoted and connected: low karst in Sežana, contact karst in Škocjan caves, high karst in Brod na Kupi and the coastal karst in Punat.
The manual summarises the methodology of the main interpreters of the heritage on the project – Muses Ltd – which was collected and separated into clear parts by our Mirna Draženović, along with Aleš Smrekar, one of the editors of the publication.
The editors presented guidelines for interpretive planning, which they themselves rely on in their work. Their work is based on the recognition of theoretical foundations and good examples from practice, which includes a review of their own professional experience. At the same time, the methodology of this manual has been tested through the planning of permanent exhibitions in four interpretation centres (Sežana, Škocjan Caves, Brod na Kupi, Punat) and on the accompanying thematic trails of the sustainable destination KRASn’KRŠ.
Following good practices of cross-border cooperation, the manual was published as a bilingual publication, in Croatian and Slovenian. The benefit of this publication is its visual content. First, these visuals were created as documents of the project’s activities: some photographs are of the realised interpretation infrastructures and professional field trips and some photographs were collected through an open call for photographers on the topic of karst, which also makes the Manual a diary of the KRASn’KRŠ project par excellence.
In order to ensure the integrity of the approach to the interpretive planning process, the manual also covers topics that go beyond the scope of the project’s activities, e.g. festival planning. Thus, part of the visual content of the publication consists of visuals from the archives of other projects and collaborators that have proven to be successful examples (e.g. the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival).
Briefly about the content
The content of the Manual is divided into seven chapters. In the beginning, the theoretical and legislative foundations are defined. After that, the practical aspects of the profession are gradually revealed to the reader. In the end, the particular solutions to heritage interpretation are also revealed.
The first chapter – Heritage – provides a brief overview of the basic concepts and legislation related to natural and cultural heritage and their definitions. This chapter places heritage in the context of the development of sustainable destination tourism and points out that heritage should be considered as a resource that creates the preconditions for the development of special forms of tourism.
The second chapter – Heritage interpretation – provides the definitions and objectives of this discipline, describes its benefits for the local community and distinguishes the course of interpretive planning in clear steps.
The third chapter – Ecomuseum as an example of connection of cultural and natural heritage – singles out the ecomuseum as an example of an effective tool by which the local community takes over the management of its own natural and cultural heritage. One of the common characteristics of all ecomuseums is the reflection of the pride of the local people for their place as well as experimentation because each community needs to find its own way in the process of managing its heritage.
Chapter 4 – Interpretation infrastructure – describes the main characteristics and features of the indoor interpretation infrastructure (interpretation and visitor centres and museums) as well as the outdoor (trails, signalisation system, art productions and interventions in space).
Chapter Five – Interpretation media – introduces the reader to the communication and interpretation media most commonly used in interpretation and visitor centres: permanent exhibitions, audiovisual media, personal interpretation.
Chapter Six – Programme – defines the programme of interpretation and visitor centres as the key to achieving their mission. The programme activity can be focused on developing the visitor experience, but also on responding to the needs of the local community. Programme activities can be extremely diverse. The following programme activities and their impact on meeting the needs of the audience are considered: festivals, performance events, creative workshops, non-permanent and travelling exhibitions, an artist-in-residence programme, research and scientific activities, sports programmes and events.
Chapter Seven – The development of interpretive content – advises the reader on how to prepare project assignments for collaborators involved in the process of creating visual and textual content to be used in heritage interpretation.
And finally, we invite you to, if you haven’t already, download the Manual for free here. We hope it will reveal something new to you, motivate you in your work or simply entertain you! And let us know what you think about it! It is precious to us, as always, to hear your opinion!
Basic information about the project
The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Communal Housing Company Sežana
The Škocjan Caves Public Institution
The Goodplace Institute for Sustainable Tourism
The Natural History Museum Rijeka
May 2017 – February 2020
EU – European Regional Development Fund within the co-operation programme of Interreg V-A Slovenia-Croatia 2014-2020.