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For Your Consideration 7.3

Two New Museums on our Horizon

The cultural landscape of the United States has been enriched by the recent addition of two new museums.

Museum of African American History – Detroit, Michigan

This is the world’s largest cultural institution devoted to Black heritage in America. Through a combination of videos, photographic time lines, and a recreation of a slave ship, Black history is traced from its African roots through slavery, civil rights and urban struggles, to a broad range of achievements.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Georgia O’Keeffe loved and painted images of the Southwest throughout much of her adult life. Housed in a traditional, adobe-style building, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum presents more than 80 of her works.

Advice from a Sage Interpreter

There seems to a be scarcity of good, useful texts that help educators teach the skill of interpretation to visitors. However, one resource written back in 1957, remains a definitive resource. It is entitled Interpreting Our Heritage, and was written by Freeman Tilden, a Park Service employee.

Mr. Tilden offers sage advice in the form of succinct principles that are applicable to all disciplines and settings. They include:

  • The chief aim of interpretation is not instruction, but provocation.
  • Interpretation is an educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships, rather than simply to communicate factual information.
  • Information, as such, is not interpretation. Interpretation is revelation based upon information.
  • Any interpretation that does not somehow relate what is being displayed or described to something within the personality or experience of the visitor will be sterile.
  • Interpretation addressed to children should not be a dilution of the presentation to adults, but should follow a fundamentally different approach. To be at its best it will require a separate program.

“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 7.3 (Spring 1998): 7.

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