Our Approach to Interpretive Planning

The father of interpretive planning in America is Freeman Tilden, author of Interpreting Our Heritage. In 1957, he defined interpretation as a way

to reveal meanings and relationships…
rather than simply to communicate factual information.”

The team takes this definition to heart. For us, interpretation is the foundation of every exhibit. Successful interpretation captures the visitors’ imagination and curiosity; it makes connections between concepts and facts and the personal lives of visitors, and it conveys themes in engaging and unforgettable ways.

Successful Interpretive Exhibit

A successful interpretive exhibit uses objects and images, interactive experiences, and a variety of media formats to reach people with different learning styles. It appeals to as many senses as possible, and engages visitors intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Creating this kind of exhibit is the goal of the interpretive planning we do.

The Alchemy of Design Team

The Alchemy team carefully combines interactives and other 3D components with graphic elements to challenge visual and verbal learners. Our graphic designers approach each project as a new “world,” choosing a unique graphic style that conveys the project’s themes and stories. They work closely with the client and our planner/writer to choose imagery that engages the visitor with the concepts. Visually appealing, active photographs, diagrams, satellite photos, and other imagery, joined with illustrations that add color, texture, and interest to graphics.

The text provided by our writers adds depth to exhibits, using words to invite the visitor to interact with the exhibit, challenge them to consider their own experiences, and imagine something new. Questions in the text ought to encourage visitor involvement and conversation between visitors who are of different learning styles, as well as people of different ages. Our team members make a point of writing to ensure conversational text that is interesting and understandable.

Accessible Design Improves Visitor Experience

We find that building physical accessibility into the design improves the visitor experience for everyone. Similarly, designing for younger children improves the experience for all ages. Humor added to simple hands-on interactives aimed at children appeals to adults, as well. Variations in graphic style and different levels of sophistication in the text cue different ages.

Each design choice we make is carefully analyzed for its anticipated effects on different kinds of visitors. We find the work fascinating, and have been pleased to see how many people respond positively to the results.