Interpretelling: combining storytelling with heritage interpretation

I believe interpreters are closely related to storytellers.

I ‘invented’ the word ‘interpretelling’ year or so ago. Freshly arrived in Western Australia, I was preparing to deliver a keynote at the Museums Australia/Interpretation Australia Conference in Perth. One evening, somewhat dazzled by the experience of waking up to sunshine on three consecutive mornings, and fuelled by jet lag and good Australian wine, I found myself in conversation with a leading interpreter and one of the conference organisers.

As is customary on these occasions he enquired what I planned to talk about. I stumbled and mumbled over a mouthful of words and a headful of wine and out came a new word ‘interpreteller’. He was charming enough to seize on it as if it made perfect sense. Which when I think about it, maybe it does.


That does it for me.

Jenny Beale (foreground) is an inspiring sharer of stories, natural and cultural heritage.

Jenny Beale (foreground) is an inspiring sharer of stories,and of  natural and cultural heritage. I would call her an interpreter. That’s me in the background, I’m another. Brigit’s Garden, Co. Galway, Ireland

An interpreteller is a bridge between her content and her community.

An interpreteller cherishes and values the past, the great sagas and small tales of human history.

An interpreteller understands that every generation will and must reinvent their heritage, their identity and their traditions and renegotiate how they carry forward the burden of history.

An interpreteller is a creative who uses words with skill and care.

An interpreteller opens people’s senses to the worlds around and within them.

An interpreteller helps people find their place in a world full of life and lives.

An interpreteller helps people to listen to the sounds and wisdom of the natural world, and understand its cycles and processes.

An interpreteller understands inheritance and legacy and places herself at the heart of that flow.

An interpreteller helps explorers find their next journey.

I am an interpreteller.

Maybe you recognize yourself as an interpreteller – someone with stories you are called on to tell.  They may be stories about the objects and collections which you love and care for; or stories of special places and their inhabitants, human and other; stories from the present or from the near and distant past. It is a great thing to have stories that fire you with the passion to pass them on.

An interpreteller is a great thing to be.


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About susancrosstelltale

Great visits to heritage and natural sites do not happen by accident. This blog is about the work that make special sites great places to visit. I hope it will be useful to visitors and host alike. Find out more at me and my blog.
This entry was posted in Australia, Historical interpretation, Interpretation, Interpretation Australia, Interpretelling, Thematic interpretation, Wildlife interpretation. Bookmark the permalink.

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