Do you need a heritage interpreter?

What could a heritage interpreter do for you? Do you need one? What good do they do?

You probably need a heritage interpreter if you have some aspect of natural or human heritage that you want to tell people about.

The manufacturer of the finest pipes in the world can be a heritage business.

The manufacturer of the finest pipes in the world used a heritage interpreter (me).

Any business that has heritage at its core could probably benefit from a bit of help from a heritage interpreter.  You might be a major heritage attraction, a tiny B and B in a protected landscape, a company with many years of creating a great product, a fine hotel in  a building with an intriguing past, a community archive, a National Park, a conservation charity with a message to get across or a museum. In my company, TellTale, we work with all of them – click on the links to see some of our clients from the last two months.

If heritage matters to what you do and how you communicate, you are in the heritage interpretation business.

Heritage interpreters make sure the heritage is doing all it can to help your business (and sometimes vice versa).

You may want people to know about and enjoy an aspect of heritage because you hold it in trust for the benefit of wider society (your organisation may have been set up to do just that or you may just feel it in your bones). You may  want people to contribute to its preservation (your organisation may have been set up to do that).  Maybe you simply want your heritage to make people warm to you so they give you money (your organisation may have been set up to do that).

Whatever your reason, if you want people to enjoy your heritage – which may be a building, a story, a landscape, a collection or many other things –  you are likely to need a heritage interpreter.  We help people with the rather complex business of enjoying heritage.

This woman appears to be enjoying heritage - thanks to a heritage interpreter.

This woman appears to be enjoying heritage – thanks to a heritage interpreter (not me – the excellent guide (on left) who led our tour at Bosworth Battlefield).

Enjoying heritage is not straightforward. It can involve (in absolutely no particular order) engaging the senses, empathy, imagination, curiosity, intellect, memory, an aesthetic sense, patience, compassion, a sense of awe, practical understanding, a sense of community and lots of other things.  Many of the things in fact that make being human great and Life interesting – and complicated.

Interpreters work with this sort of stuff all the time. We make heritage relevant, engaging, provocative and put it at the heart of memorable experiences and unforgettable messages. We make contact with history and wildlife great. Great enough to be a cornerstone for your business.

Our work is further complicated by the fact that that not everyone brings the same attitudes, experiences, skills or knowledge to their encounter with your heritage. We understand this, we heritage interpreters are versatile. We can delight the practical people with details of how it was made, the romantics with tales of passion, the artists with the sheer glorious beauty of it, the gossips with tit-bits of the ‘would you believe it!’ variety, and the academics with killer facts and hard evidence about the difference it made.  We can do this whether we are looking at a nature reserve or an Old Master.

We often do this as part of celebrating our human stories and the natural world.  We therefore do it with respect for the things we are encouraging people to enjoy and cherish. Some heritage stuff doesn’t like too much close attention – it may discolour, fade, fall to bits, or leave its nest. We know this and work around it.

We work around other things too, like: the need for toilets and cups of tea (at least in the UK), a place to run about, a place to sit quietly, the capacity and skills of staff, rotas, and unpredictable weather (and wildlife).

It is a complicated business. But it is a business nevertheless and we work with your business priorities, objectives and realities.

So, do you need a heritage interpreter?  If you think you might, you could start with an exploratory conversation with us. Visit our website or e-mail me at

So, do you want to be a heritage interpreter? If you think you might and want to know what that means in the 21st century, you could start by booking on the new “Interpretation Now” training course with James Carter and myself at Plas Tan Y Bwlch at the end of May.  (We are planning it now and it is going to be a fantastic week.)

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 Attractions, Heritage attractions, Interpretation, interpretation planning, Museums, Training, Wildlife and countryside attractions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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