My name is Wen-Yi Liu and i am a student member of AHI. I had seen that there was such an interpretation course from the website and tried to register, however the course was fully booked and I was placed on a waiting list, so it was really fortunate for me to be offered the place!
Sarah Oswald (course director) arranged a pre-course online meeting for all of the attendees and an interpretive audit work for the preparation of the training course. Once we had registered, every enrolled member was informed how the whole process would work, including an online meeting and an interpretive homework. We needed to make sure we had a heritage/museum case for the interpretive work. These case studies provide an opportunity for us to review not only the characteristics of a heritage site/museum but also our current individual methods of interpreting and understanding a case study before receiving the training. After experiencing the whole process of the course and looking back these pre-course activities, it was very good that any specific questions could be dealt with in the online meeting, and it was interesting to review our personal practices of interpretation from the interpretive work.
The training course itself was very engaging and contained much useful and helpful information. The course is suitable for those who work or plan to work at museums/heritage sites; it provides many principles for consideration and reference when planning to hold exhibitions and presenting the features of certain sites. Sarah guided us to think about the theme(s) of exhibitions/sites and messages which we want to convey, and about different types of audiences and budget. There are many factors to take into account, by for those who work in cultural institutions or for students/early professionals interpreting case studies as myself. I was surprised and amazed by all of the things that are necessary to think of when you present the characteristics of heritage sites/museums/certain themes as a professional. These also remind me, to a certain extent, of what I need to be aware of when I start to work later on the aspects of communicating with both the audiences and the sites.
It was an integral part of the course that members wrote an interpretive plan, a ‘homework’, after the training. Through doing the plan, we had opportunities to review what we learnt in the course, putting into practice these principals to enhance our own interpretive abilities. Comparing with the activity before the course, I believe that we, at least myself, become better equipped and are able to design an exhibition or interpretive plan in a full scale. Even though I do not yet have much practical experience, the after-course activity offered me a chance to try to design my own ‘exhibition’, imagining what I would like to do and what information I want to display in certain ways. These were interesting, exciting exercises and I am filled with expectation for the future.
To sum up, it was a great and unique experience for me to participate in the interpretation training course. I am a PhD student and I am researching the interpretation of two heritage sites; as a result, the ‘audience’ of my interpretation would be academic professionals looking for approaches that are more theoretical. The training course focused more on practical methods and on interacting with the public; how to convey significant messages in an easy way that general people can understand was the main purpose of the course. The training has inspired me to take diverse perspectives and angles for interpreting my case studies, and it has given me a picture of what I can expect and do after I graduate and work in a cultural institution. I really appreciate AHI and GEM for giving me this chance to participate in the training, and I will strongly recommend those who expect to work, plan to work and already work in museums, heritage sites or other cultural institutions to participate in the course. You will acquire new inspiration!
This course is running again on Friday 27th April 2018 -10:00 to 16:30 @ National Army Museum, London and more locations are to be announced soon! To find out more visit the GEM website.
Spaces are limited, so book your place now!