Explaining Our World: An Approach to the Art of Environmental Interpretation

Explaining Our World: An Approach to the Art of Environmental Interpretation

Explaining Our World: An Approach to the Art of Environmental Interpretation

Explaining Our World: An Approach to the Art of Environmental Interpretation

Excerpt

The designers of China’s gardens, whether private or public, based their work on a traditional philosophy, with which I find myself in total sympathy. Expressed in its simplest form, it held that a visitor to a garden was a central feature of its composition. The garden had two essential and closely interlinked elements: the design itself, and the people who came to enjoy it and to obtain inspiration and comfort from it. That the visitors and the garden were separate from one another was a completely alien and incomprehensible concept: the visitors were part of the garden. One interacted with the other and gave meaning and purpose to the whole.

For a long time, and greatly to our disadvantage, our Western attitude to any kind of exhibition has been markedly confrontational. We have looked at gardens, museum exhibits and zoo animals, but always as spectators. We have not been regarded, or regarded ourselves, as an integral part of the total scene.

In my own work, the museum field, I have become increasingly impatient with the notion that museums are essentially places where interesting material can be brought together, conserved and displayed—i.e. institutions to be visited. More and more I have come to regard every street, farm and river as a ‘museum’, interlocking and mutually supporting one another to form the Great London Museum, the Great British Museum or whatever the chosen unit may be. These units become progressively bigger, and eventually add up, in our case, to the Great European Museum.

A Great Museum, whatever its size, is one that one cannot avoid visiting, because one lives in it and sees part of it every day. There is nothing elitist or selective about it: the people who use it look at it day by day. Whether they are aware of what they are looking at is another matter, and this is why Andrew Pierssené’s book is so welcome. I particularly like his declaration that ‘the process of interpretation requires a threesome’. In Environmental Interpretation, he says ‘the trio consists of the Feature, the Visitor and the Interpreter’—which means, in effect, that people, whether residents or tourists, have to be given eyes with which to see and attitudes with which to understand. Given such guidance and encouragement, they become sharers of the landscape, urban or

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.