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Interpretation Design:

an Integrative, Interdisciplinary Practice

Publication: Museum and Society Journal

Year: October 2014

This paper examines the role of designers in interpretation projects, reporting findings from a study involving interviews with practitioners and two case studies. It identifies aspects of the designer’s role and characterises interpretation design as a field of practice.


Museums, zoos and heritage sites increasingly rely on interpretation of their resources to provide distinctive experiences that attract and engage visitors. However, the practice of designing interpretation is little researched and ill-defined. Through interviews and case studies the research seeks to better understand the role of design in interpretation projects in an Australian context and articulates practitioner perspectives about the aims and issues of their work. The paper argues that interpretation design is a field of specialized yet interdisciplinary practice that exemplifies the highly collaborative and strategic nature of contemporary design practice. Often working outside traditional museum contexts, practitioners’ challenges include limited understanding by many stakeholders and clients, unsuitable project structures and limited published research that integrates interpretation and design. This article is an early step in meeting these challenges.

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