Abstracts

Roberta Altin (Italy), Katja Hrobat Virloget (Slovenia)

Border’s heritage: migration, memory, (in)visibility

Interactive workshop: 55 min

The workshop, organised in cooperation with the European alliance T4Europe, aims to critically reflect on the meaning of ‘common heritage’ in a European context. How does intergenerational transmission work in a Europe that wants to build a sense of common belonging by bringing together different national and local histories, often traumatic memories? How can the mobile, often invisible or, on the contrary, all too visible heritage linked to migrations and displacements be recognised? In a borderland, memories, identities and legacies are intertwined and overlapping, but they are not ‘contained’ in a homogeneous agglomerate. Beyond a rhetoric of inside/outside social inclusion, border heritage presupposes intermediate and graduated measures, in which the parts cannot fully constitute the whole, in order to also recognise the invisible, the traumatic, the silenced or the subaltern memories that are often invisible.
The aim is an interdisciplinary and mutual confrontation between the different visions and experiences of heritage experts from 10 European universities participating in T4E WP7 on ‘Common Heritage & Multilingualism’, stakeholders working in GLAMs (galleries, libraries, arts, museums) of the different regions and students of the European Alliance.

Roberta Altin is associate professor of cultural anthropology at the Department of Humanities, University of Trieste (Italy). Her research has mainly focused on transnational migration, refugee studies, museum and media anthropology.

Katja Hrobat Virloget is an associate professor at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Primorska. She is currently the head of the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Studies at UP FHŠ. Her research topics are anthropology of memory, heritage, population movements, anthropology of space, time, mythology, folklore, intangible heritage.

Darko Babić (Croatia)

Towards European Heritage Interpretation Curriculum (TEHIC)

Presentation: 15 min

After longer planning, starting in 2023, Erasmus+ project cooperation between University of Gothenburg (SE), Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico (ES), University of Zagreb (HR), University of Freiburg (DE), Mapa de Ideas (PT), Associación de Interpretación del Patrimonio (ES) and On Projects (ES) was launched. The main goal of this Erasmus + project (titled “Towards a European Heritage Interpretation Curriculum”) is the creation of a uniform (respecting differences by regions and all other peculiarities at the European level) academic curriculum (MA/Sc graduate level) which could/should be an example of how, and in what way, a higher education in the field of heritage interpretation should be developed in Europe. The project goals argue toward the importance of heritage interpretation, especially around recognizing it as a defined profession, which could be reached primarily through acknowledgement and entering into formal education at the University level.

Darko Babić (Associate Professor; PhD in Heritage Studies) is Chair of the Sub-Department of Museology, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, University of Zagreb (Croatia). He is active in advancement of the heritage profession serving as Chair of ICOM Croatia, ICOM-ICTOP and as a SC to Interpret Europe. His research interests are heritage and development, management and interpretation. He has working experience on EU projects and as a free-lance consultant within heritage sector.

Marie Banks (United Kingdom)

Blooms, birds and bees, and what can an old goat teach us?

Presentation: 15 min

We will look at how interpretive techniques helped two different community groups in Ireland to engage with some big issues and how lessons from the past can secure a more sustainable future. In the first case study, a community-owned Group Water Scheme (like a small private water company) turned a former school into a new learning environment to engage with climate change and biodiversity loss. Through a mix of interactive exhibits, activities and outdoor learning environments, schools from Ireland and Northern Ireland can access free opportunities for students to develop new skills and critical thinking to help change attitudes and foster positive action for the environment. The second example will reveal how looking to Ireland’s ancient past and cultural heritage through the eyes of a living beast that was thought to have gone extinct but was rediscovered in 2012, can help us combat some of the effects of climate change for a more sustainable future.

Marie has more than 20 years’ experience in interpretive planning and delivering engaging exhibitions worldwide. She works freelance and teams up with her husband and other design companies. Prior to that she was an international consultant for the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and exhibition manager for a large UK natural history visitor attraction. Marie has been IE’s News Coordinator since 2015.

Mojca Bedjanič, Darja Komar, Lenka Stremecki (Slovenia), Gerald Hartmann (Germany)

Karavanke UNESCO Global Geopark as a tool for sustainable development

Presentation: 15 min

The Karavanke UNESCO Global Geopark follows the goals of sustainability in the field of development of eco-friendly geotourism, education, and above all in the field of sustainable use (protection) of natural resources. The rich geodiversity is the basis for the exceptional biodiversity that the area boasts. Through activities, development of programs and products, and implementation of educational programs, the Geopark Karavanke actively participates and encourages the preservation and restoration of habitats and species, aware of the fact that preserved nature is the basis for the survival of our human kind. By developing (and pre-defining) green products and programs that encourage limited visits and direct visitors outside of vulnerable nature areas, with the help of story interpretation and training of heritage interpreters (teachers, educators, guides, etc.), Geopark Karavanke achieve changes in the way of thinking, behavior and in the way that both locals and visitors can take co-responsibility for nature (and heritage).

Mojca Bedjanič is involved in interpretation of geological and other natural heritage, interpretation points, information centres, educational trails, animation plans, touch screens, children’s books, leaflets, school programmes, project ideas, carrying out interpretative workshops, workshops for educators and for tourist guides.
Her studies include nature interpretation conferences, interpretative workshops, internal workshops for IRSNC and Interpretative course.

Darja Komar gives lectures, workshops for children, is author and co-author of several professional and popular articles, leaflets, brochures, guiding in infocentres and other.

Lenka Stermecki works in Interpretation of geological and other natural heritage: Interpretation points, Info centres, Educational trails, Animation plans, Touch screens, Children’s books, Leaflets, School programmes, project ideas, carrying out interpretative workshops, workshops for educators. Her studies include: nature interpretation conferences, workshops, Interpretative courses.

Gerald Hartmann is organising guided hikes, lectures and workshops for children, is author and co-author of several professional and popular articles, children books, leaflets, brochures, new project ideas, works with project management, animations like geo-games, educational trails, infocenter, info points and other.

Árpád Bőczén (Hungary)

Shorter format, but reaching out to more – new one-day workshops to answer practicioners’ needs

Presentation: 15 min

This is an excerpt of an International Visegrad Fund project aiming at developing shorter trainings in interpretive guiding, exhibition planning, and writing, as well as live interpretation. This project was largely motivated to provide one-day events that are more likely to reach out to more participants. These events not only serve as promotion for the official Interpret Europe courses, but also fill a gap in engaging participants with the notion of heritage interpretation. The workshops consider pragmatic aspects that heritage managers face in their everyday professional life. Within the development of a one-day interpretive writing workshop we focused on interactivity. It is a catchword for many, but often understood in an over-simplified way, mostly restricting to physical activities, such as turning around cubes or opening and closing niches. We wanted to challenge this approach and provide the compexitiy and potentials of true interactivity in written genres, while also arranging the sessions around the interpretive triangle.

Árpád Bőczén is the president of the Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (KÖME). He graduated as an architect and as a cultural heritage and sustainable development expert. The interpretive approach is the basis of his practical and theoretical work. He is Certified Trainer and Country Coordinator of IE in Hungary.

Árpád Bőczén (Hungary)

Vivid language has a powerful grip on your audience

Interactive workshop: 55 min

In chasing interactivity most heritage professionals have a narrow understanding. And it particularly becomes challenging if we deal with a written format. As part of a one-day interpretive writing workshop curriculum, vivid writing was something we felt obliged to include and thought it was worth a separate workshop, too. Figures of speech are such powerful tools, they themselves add to the interactive character of any text. Applying them takes practice and properly applying them takes mastery. We invite you to practice with us this potent tool, so you can more effectively facilitate meaning-making in your interpretive texts. We particularly recommend the workshop to those also attending the presentation ’Shorter format, but reaching out to more – new one-day workshops to answer practicioners’ needs’, but all are welcome.
While the exercises were developed for another format, the event gives a glimpse into Interpret Europe writing courses as well.

Árpád Bőczén is the president of the Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (KÖME). He graduated as an architect and as a cultural heritage and sustainable development expert. The interpretive approach is the basis of his practical and theoretical work. He is Certified Trainer and Country Coordinator of IE in Hungary.

Árpád Bőczén (Hungary)

What’s your time like? My time is crawling, and so am I.

Presentation: 15 min

We will guide our audience through a very short 900 meter path in a tiny peat bog on the outskirts of the Hungarian capital. This place is so small and hidden that it almost doesn’t look like a bog. The neighboring shopping mall, industrial park and highway also distract our attention. Here it really matters if you watch in a different way from others. If you change the usual way of connecting to your surroundings, then you can experience and understand things that ordinary visitors do not. For instance you can contact a European pond turtle without even seeing it or you will be able to see the future where the value of such sites will be appreciated again.
During the virtual walk we will tell you how we noticed this exciting, mysterious world, one of the last witnesses of an extensive wetland. We will tell you the birth story of an educational trail and how we interpreters tried to challenge not only the mindsets of the visitors but of those involved in the planning process.

Árpád Bőczén is the president of the Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (KÖME). He graduated as an architect and as a cultural heritage and sustainable development expert. The interpretive approach is the basis of his practical and theoretical work. He is Certified Trainer and Country Coordinator of IE in Hungary.

Magnus Copps (United Kingdom)

The Small Politics of Heritage-led Regeneration: The impact of investment on volunteer-led groups

Presentation: 15 min

This paper uses the UK’s Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) programme as a case study to understand how professionalised investment in the built environment (in the form of Heritage-led regeneration grants) affects the vital volunteer-led societies and associations that often play a major role in collecting and interpreting local heritage, particularly in post-industrial places. Using three case studies from the HAZ programme, Tyldesley, Coventry, and Ramsgate, the paper explores the legacy of this investment within local heritage societies in relation to two key areas. Firstly the future sustainability of the organisations themselves, through a changed position in regenerating places. Secondly, how behaviours and attitudes that can be related to the UN SDG goals develop through HAZ activities and programmes and may persist through local societies’ ongoing heritage interpretation activity. This paper is supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council through Clore Leadership.

Magnus Copps is an experienced community archaeology and heritage practitioner. Currently an independent consultant, Magnus undertook the Clore Cultural Leadership Fellowship 2022-2023 with focus on how heritage engagement can support new ways of thinking about climate change and climate resilience for audiences, Prior to that Magnus lead the UK’s largest professional community and public archaeology team at Museum of London Archaeology, working on major regeneration and participatory projects across England.

Katia Dianina (USA)

Yours, Mine, or Ours? Dissonant Heritage and New Narratives for Sustainability

Presentation: 15 min

Recent trends in heritage studies point away from the rhetoric of “authorized” heritage discourse and towards pluralistic, multivocal interpretations. The participatory model of curating and narrating heritage sites offers a human-centered approach, which helps embrace divergent memories and open space for critical reflection. When we deal with “uncomfortable heritage,” however, social sustainability runs into inevitable problems. The “inclusive heritage discourse” paradigm, lately proposed by Višnja Kisić, offers practical, actionable solutions for addressing diversities and conflicts; it also suggests a tentative path toward building engagement and reconciliation.

A decade ago, this approach was put to a test in the Museum of Yugoslavia, which explicitly fashions itself as an inclusive public space. Contrary to optimistic expectations, the results of several exhibitions at the museum, meant to open up a dialogue between different ethnic and national groups, delivered controversial results. This presentation considers the benefits and limitations of inclusive heritage discourse.

Katia’s experience with heritage interpretation ranges from guided tours to academic publications. The topic of safeguarding and negotiating dissonant heritage has a long history, and studying how different communities in the past and present have approached the issue provides invaluable insights into understanding of our common future. It also offers pathways into practical steps that we can undertake today, when the preservation of heritage as a sustainable tradition is more urgent than ever.

Evinc Dogan (Turkey)

Community Engagement and Sustainable Cultural Tourism: Mediating Role of Heritage Interpretation

Presentation: 15 min

This study examines the role of heritage interpretation in promoting sustainable cultural tourism and community engagement. The Antandros heritage site in Turkey is selected as the research case. The study employs a mixed-methods approach, combining qualitative data collection methods and a hybrid thematic analysis technique, to examine the heritage interpretation practices implemented by the Antandros Association, a local NGO Altınoluk, Turkey. The findings highlight the significance of heritage interpretation in creating a destination theme or brand through storytelling and myths, the barriers to community engagement posed by the lack of cooperation with the public sector and financial support, and the crucial role played by local NGOs in connecting stakeholders.

Evinc Dogan is a BA in Tourism Management, MSc in History of Architecture, PhD in Management and Development of Cultural Heritage. She is an Associated Professor at Boğaziçi University in the Tourism Administration Department. Her research focuses on the role of heritage interpretation and storytelling for community engagement. She has been a member of Interpret Europe and participated in the courses for Certified Interpretive Guides and Interpretive Writers in Elefsina, Greece, organized by IE.

Lana Domšić, Andrijana Milisavljević (Croatia)

Interpreting Dissonant Heritage: From Painful to Healing Stories

Interactive workshop: 55 min

Dissonant heritage (difficult, controversial, unwanted) encompasses disturbing histories and pasts that challenge the established identities of the groups they are associated with. Rather than reinforcing positive self-images, they disrupt or even pose a threat by revealing social differences and conflicts. Contested sites, objects and practices, linked to atrocity, conflict, colonialism, totalitarian regimes or multiculturalism, often carry different narratives and diverse values. Such heritage is frequently neglected or inaccurately presented. In this workshop, building on the general theory of dissonant heritage and drawing from examples across Europe and beyond, we will explore methods to incorporate multivocal perspectives and dissonant narratives into heritage interpretation. Workshop participants will examine strategies for communicating dissonant heritage to encourage critical engagement and awareness among local communities and tourists, promoting positive contemporary values.

Lana Domšić graduated in Art History and Museology, holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Management, and a PhD in Information Sciences. Her thesis focused on participatory heritage interpretation and its social impacts. She’s a professor at the University Baltazar Zaprešić, teaching courses on heritage management and cultural tourism. She’s a co-author of several heritage interpretation projects.

Andrijana Milisavljević is a co-owner of Zelena gradnja company, where she works as a content designer and project manager. Last few years, she led projects of various scales, interpreting cultural and natural heritage, and coordinating diverse professionals. She also works as an interpretive writer, crafting engaging and interpretive content. For almost two years, she is Country Coordinator Croatia for IE.eritage management and cultural tourism. She’s a co-author of several heritage interpretation projects.

Marija Dragišić (Serbia)

Vernacular architecture: an open book on sustainability

Presentation: 15 min

Vernacular architecture has been the subject of institutional heritage protection in Serbia for almost eight decades. Although key changes in the theory of protection took place in that period, it cannot be said that it had a complete impact on the practice of protection. Interpretation and presentation are still far from being an integral part of the heritage protection process, and cultural property with a professionally designed interpretation and presentation plan are rare.

Monuments of traditional architecture have the same fate. In a small number of cases, when working on their interpretation and presentation, they were mainly based on the cultural and historical value of these objects. Thus, with the addition of an appropriate interior, static ethnographic exhibitions were obtained that exclusively spoke about the past of these objects.
When the time came to present folk architecture in a more modern way, a topic came up that offered to look at it from another aspect – from the aspect of sustainability, based on the strong connection between folk architecture and sustainable construction. In the past, people were not familiar with the concept of sustainability, but they intuitively appreciated it and incorporated it into their houses, thanks to the harmonious relationship they had with nature and the environment.

The presentation talks about how today, when it is relevant, the objects of folk architecture can be shown as bearers of traditional knowledge, applicable in modern design, for the benefit of man and his environment. The idea is to use concrete examples of traditional Serbian construction to show how outdated models of presenting this part of the architectural heritage can be overcome and to show it as an open book on the principles of sustainability, which should be applied in the modern aspiration to establish sustainable development.

Marija is an ethnologist and anthropologist and works as a conservator-researcher at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia in Belgrade. She is professionally oriented towards the protection of vernacular architecture, with a special interest in its interpretation and presentation. She presented one such example at the Conference in Romania, organized by IE. She designs and organizes educational programs for children and teachers and believes that, with a clear interpretation and presentation and good cooperation with the local population, this is the only way to achieve sustainable preservation of heritage. She is the author of several published articles in domestic and foreign magazines and a documentary film, co-author and collaborator at several exhibitions and occasionally a participant at professional conferences in the country and abroad. She is a member of ICOMOS Serbia and Interpret Europe.

Mirna Draženović (Croatia)

The House of the World tree: ancestral secrets embedded in the landscape and their relevance today

Presentation: 15 min

Liuzhi principles guided the development of the ecomuseum in Mošćenička Draga, the municipality on the northern Adriatic coast of Croatia. The ecomuseum’s components—interpretive centres, living spaces, heritage tasting areas, and cultural activities—recreate, regenerate and celebrate this community year-round. One of the steps was the transformation of a traditional house into an interpretation centre, The House of the World tree, in an abandoned hamlet at the foot of Učka mountain.

The ancient inhabitants of the mountain inscribed the ancient Proto-Slavic mythical cycle on the landscape, which is revealed through toponyms that have been preserved to this day. Getting to know the actors of the mythical worldview in the form of a world tree, visitors get to know the key characters of Slavic mythology. Here they explore their relevance in the rural way of life of the hamlets for the last hundred years and how they inspire us today to live a life in balance with nature.

Mirna Draženović’s professional sensibility for various artistic and heritage disciplines comes to life in the process of interpretation planning, creating exhibition concepts, and developing content. She joined the Muze/Muze team in 2013. Until now, she was a key expert in the realization of more than ten permanent exhibitions in interpretation centres in Croatia and Slovenia.

Aleksandra Drinić (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Dajak, a traditional river boat and window to the past, becomes a link to the future

Presentation: 15 min

This presentation explains a successful heritage revival initiative, emphasizing community engagement, collaborative interpretation service development and the enhancement of the public’s capacity as heritage interpreters. Focusing on revitalizing the local heritage represented by the Dajak punting boat along the Vrbas river in Banja Luka (https://dajak.org), the presentation will examine the local community’s evolving perspective on Dajak, exploring how the strategic branding of Banja Luka and the integration of Dajak in tourism development foster a comprehensive appreciation of the common heritage, emphasizing its historical significance in European history. To overcome the realistic threat of this important piece of heritage falling into oblivion a series of actions were taken to revive it and, through involving a wide range of local community groups and creation of a unique tourism offer in Banja Luka town, secure its existence for generations to come.

Aleksandra Drinic holds a Master of Science degree in Tourism, Heritage, and Development from the University of Glasgow and postgraduate Certificate in Archaeology from Leicester University. She has been working in tourism development sector for over 2 decades and is currently employed as the Northern Region Director for USAID Turizam Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ioana Duica, Iulia Astafanei (Romania)

Forest of Immortal Stories

Interactive workshop: 55 min

The “”Forest of Immortal Stories”” is an initiative of the Nucșoara commune, carried out with the support of the Foundation Conservation Carpathia, and was born from the desire to protect some of the oldest and most spectacular beech trees in Europe. We don’t live long enough to tell our tale, but these secular beech trees are almost immortal. Anyone can adopt a secular beech tree, choosing it from the map of the area or searching for a favorite number, for a fee of 700 lei. If you want your beech tree to tell you its story, write it in 200 words in the dedicated form. The story will be edited, audio recorded, and placed on a QR code tag on the tree of your choice within one month. The project allows you to adopt a beech tree without leaving a story. More about the project can be found at https://arboricupovesti.ro/about-project

Ioana discovered interpretation during the master program of the University of Bucharest – Geobiology applied to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. In the last 7 years she has been developing interactive exhibitions and workshops for children promoting cultural and natural values. Since 2022, she has been coordinating the education programs of the Conservation Carpathia Foundation.

Iulia Astefanei is a communication specialist at the Conservation Carpathia Foundation.

Beata J. Gawryszewska (Poland)

Interpreting landscape of democracy. Front gardens in Polish garden cities

Presentation: 15 min

Garden cities and suburban garden districts were a nineteenth-century idea of sustainability. Living in such places, although reserved for the newly emerging middle class, was associated with adherence to the idea of equality and the sustainable city, which are included today in the list of sustainable development goals.
The composition of these gardens, especially in the front section, supported a phatic function – social communication through collectively recognised models of a beautiful environment. One result is the scale of participatory democracy in these places, which is superior to others. The presentation aims to show good practices in interpreting such a heritage. The idea of Open Gardens, which has been running in Poland for 18 years, is a way to network people and institutions and strengthen the platform for local action. Postenvironmentalism and urban movements allow the social layer of meanings of gardens to be reread and used to interpret the heritage of the traditional gardens.

Beata is a landscape architect and garden designer, and an associate professor in the Department of Landscape Art at WULS, Poland. Her specialisation is the social issues in green planning and the interpretation of inhabited areas (e.g. home gardens, community spaces, bottom-up greenery). She has authorised several papers and books about the image and meanings of social, community & family urban gardens.

Pinelopi Gkini (Greece)

Coworking with villagers in a conflictual context in a small village in Crete, Greece

Presentation: 15 min

Coworking with villagers in a conflictual context in a small village in Northwest Crete In summer 2023 after a year of conflicts about the water springs in a a village which are bought from a big investor, some people from the local assembly complained about not being included in the 20 new cultural paths of the region established by the mayor. Proposing to create their own path without any institution’s help, just working together, led us to 5-6 meetings under a big platanus for 2 months, while preparing for European heritage days in the village in September 2023. The process was very creative and the outcomes were more than just a cultural path to talk about the importance of water. The goal was to invite people to come in September to be guided onto this path, and for them to understand the importance of water in this village and in their culture. The big event took place and almost 200 people came for the tour, the discussion and the concert. What happened next? Which mindsets have changed after the big event of September 2023 just some weeks before the elections?

I was introduced to heritage interpretation in 2015 by Valya Stergioti in the Heriq program in Greece. I found this tool very interesting for my work as mountain leader and tourist group leader. It was combining two important things: hermeneutics (connecting to my academic background) and my job about heritage. I used it in some educational programs as “The postman road”, a project financed by the green funds of Greece and presented on the previous Interpret Europe conference and I’ve participated in some events created by the Ministry of Culture about agricultural landscapes guiding and instructing people around heritage interpretation, helping to create an internet link about heritage interpretation in Greek. This year, after finishing my MA in alternative approaches of psychology to education, I found it very relevant to try to use heritage interpretation in education programs I’ve created for the kids around my village. I participate in the trainers course in North Italy in November 2023.

Barbara Gołębiowska (Poland)

The forgotten half of history? An interpreter in search of the female voice

Interactive workshop: 1 h 25 min

One of the Sustainable Development Goals is gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide. During the workshop we will consider together how heritage interpretation can support this goal and how heritage sites can contribute to strengthen the female voice without dominating other voices. The workshop will begin with an exercise in which we will create a circle of women related to the heritage the participants are concerned with. Then we will discuss why it is important for us to actively seek out and bring out stories related to women in the context of heritage, what kind of language to use to describe these stories, how to relate them to values and what mistakes to avoid. Concrete examples of museum stories about women will be presented – we will critically analyse them, noting what kinds of clichés and biases appear in the stories about women’s history and what bona fide errors are made. The final goal of the workshop is to develop a catalogue of ‘good practices’ in the field in the context of heritage interpretation.

Barbara Gołębiowska is an art historian and museum professional with 25 years of experience. She is director of Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum in Warsaw, formerly creator and head of the Education Department at the Józef Piłsudski Museum in Sulejówek and coordinator of Erasmus+ program, during which 30 museum employees earned CIG and CIW certificates. She is IE coordinator in Poland, a Certified Interpretive Planner and Guide, and completed the CIT course in Arnoga in 2023 (during final certification).

Małgorzata Hordyniec (Poland)

We need to talk about audio description. Between art of description, meaning-making, universal planning, and multi-sensory museum experience.

Presentation: 45 min

A picture is worth 1000 words? Maybe. But the audio describer might say that a few well-chosen words conjure vivid and lasting images. (Joel Snyder)

The audio description (AD) translates the visual into verbal and is dedicated to blind and visually impaired audiences. As heritage interpreters, how can we “enrich” it? Can AD be interpretive? And if so, how? Or maybe how AD can broaden or even flip our interpretive mindset? How to pass from the understanding of audio description as a necessary inclusive tool, to a mind-opening stepping stone, challenging the perception of visual arts to us all – whether sighted or not? Together we will dwell on the history of AD in museums and heritage sites, discover the basic rules of creating this literary form (yes, it is a kind of literary art form in itself!), and discuss its interpretative qualities and potentialities. The multi-sensory guided tour in Princes Czartoryski Museum in Krakow will serve as a case study on how to implement AD and other inclusive solutions to create an immersive, interpretive experience for all kinds of museum visitors.

A social anthropologist by education (University of Warsaw, Poland) and avocation. A member of the Interpret Europe network, a certified interpretive guide (CIG), and a certified interpretive writer (CIW). At Malopolska Institute of Culture in Krakow, she acts as a „field worker”, cooperating with local communities and cultural institutions on heritage interpretation. When not in the field, she fiddles with words, writing audio descriptions for museums.

Piotr Idziak (Poland)

How to deal with the group? Managing the group process in interpratation – facilitated workshop

Interactive workshop: 1 h 25 min

Interpretation is usually directed towards a group. To make interpretation fruitful and satisfying, the interpreter has to be conscious of the group dynamics. During the meeting relations among participants change and develop – it influences how the group participates in interpretation.
How should we follow the needs of the group in subsequent stages of its process? How should we pay attention to the nature of group dynamics? Which stepping stones are best to introduce and when? In this workshop, we will focus on our experiences with groups and connect them with the elements of the group process theories.
The workshop will follow the facilitation pattern – we`ll define key problems of managing group work, then we`ll discuss solutions and try to apply elements of group process theory to our guiding practices. Reflection upon the group process can help a guide to play the role of facilitator for the group – this is the tool to open lively discussions and share reflections upon presented heritage.

Piotr is a social anthropologist, museologist and sociologist (Jagiellonian University of Krakow). He works in the Malopolska Institute of Culture in Krakow as a consultant, trainer and facilitator of strategic processes. He is author of interpretation strategies and multi – sensoric heritage trails in UNESCO sites – Silver Mine in Tarnowskie Góry and Wieliczka Salt Mine. He is author of the heritage based education games for groups. He is a member of the Interpret Europe network, interpretive guide and trainer.

Fjorentin Ismaili (Albania)

Promotion of geotourism as an opportunity for Sustainability (Case study: Përmet Municipality)

Presentation: 15 min

The promotion of geotourism as an opportunity for sustainable economic development in Përmet Municipality is a topic that aims to address new alternatives in this field and how the local population can benefit from these innovations. It is not only the rich natural and cultural heritage of a country that supports sustainability, but the ways in which this heritage can be used and become part of the tourism movement for the benefit of the community.
The municipality of Përmet is one of the most typical case studies in this perspective, since in this area there are two National Parks of particular importance and many geosites with great potential. By developing the concept of geotourism, which focuses mainly on the promotion of the geological and geomorphological characteristics of landscapes as tourist attractions, through the application of GIS, the promotion of geosites with tourist potential is aimed at diversifying the tourist offer through the development of geotourism.

With the study, assessment and promotion of geoheritage as a function of the economic development of the Municipality of Përmet, Fjorentin has been working for years within the study cycles he has completed, as well as with doctoral studies. From the studies, he has proved that for the achievement of tourism sustainability many factors are related to the way the local population promotes it.

Julia Janowska (Poland)

Language as a powerful tool – how to use it ethically?

Interactive workshop: 1 h 25 min

Our daily life is immersed in language. The average person speaks about 16,000 words a day, and knows more than twice as many. There are hundreds of thousands of connections and possible contexts in which given words can be used. Creating linguistic constructions is a responsible task, because it is through them that we can influence the formation of human ways of thinking. In interpretation, we talk about a framework of meaning. This means that certain words refer us to conceptual areas that we have culturally and socially rooted. This is a sensitive field that is easy to abuse and may lead to manipulation. The most vulnerable topics are those that are particularly important and widely discussed in society. Thus, they become a potential tool for various groups, trying to appropriate the narratives for their own purposes. Does a neutral vocabulary exist and is this one of the aspects that we should consider when creating interpretations? If so, how would such language relate to engaging audiences by evoking emotions?

Julia Janowska is head of the Education Department of the Józef Piłsudski Museum in Sulejówek. For many years she has been coordinator of the family programme, in which she conducted workshops. In her daily work she draws on heritage interpretation methodology and is a certified interpretive writer and is in the process of certification as a trainer. She holds degrees in art history and polish philology, where her deeper interest in language originates.

Iva Klarić Vujović (Croatia)

The House of the World tree: ancestral secrets embedded in the landscape and their relevance today

Presentation: 15 min

Liuzhi principles guided the development of the ecomuseum in Mošćenička Draga, the municipality on the northern Adriatic coast of Croatia. The ecomuseum’s components—interpretive centres, living spaces, heritage tasting areas, and cultural activities—recreate, regenerate and celebrate this community year-round. One of the steps was the transformation of a traditional house into an interpretation centre, The House of the World tree, in an abandoned hamlet at the foot of Učka mountain.

The ancient inhabitants of the mountain inscribed the ancient Proto-Slavic mythical cycle on the landscape, which is revealed through toponyms that have been preserved to this day. Getting to know the actors of the mythical worldview in the form of a world tree, visitors get to know the key characters of Slavic mythology. Here they explore their relevance in the rural way of life of the hamlets for the last hundred years and how they inspire us today to live a life in balance with nature.

Iva Klarić Vujović is the projects and business director at Muses Ltd, known for her expertise in organization, planning, and education. Her academic journey includes a specialist study in management of sustainable tourism and a master’s degree in art history, museology, and heritage management. As IE trainer, she passionately empowers heritage stories and professionals.

Veronika Kupková (Czech Republic)

Heritage Without Heirs? Czech-German Borderscape, its dissonant legacy & the way to socio-cultural sustainability

Presentation: 15 min

The presentation delivers a brief analysis (reflection) of civic engagement in terms of dissonant heritage, with a case study from the Czech-German borderland; an area affected by multiple forced migration and nowadays a dam. What remains when a city disappears? Why it matters, and for whom should its legacy be preserved? It aims to discuss the challenges when dealing with fixed mindsets, e.g. Czech-German, or Ost- vs. West-German biases and narratives of the past which, after decades of silence or conflict narratives, finally become a subject of a democratic discussion, and a gap within a formal education which has been failing to provide satisfactory knowledge, meaningful solutions and skills to reach mutual understanding. The session presents a practical example related to local involvement (people as heritage interpreters), that helps to transform the fixed narratives, based on the themes of landscape memory and disappearing cultural heritage (social & cultural dimension of sustainability).

The issues explored in my presentation made me interested in possible approaches to good interpretation. In 2021 I took part in the Summer School on Interpretative Planning (in Czechia) and participated in the Interpretative Guide course (CZ). Since 2021, I have been enrolled at the university (PhD) to study and examine in detail, landscape transformation, memory of the place and its (dissonant) heritage.

Patrick Lehnes (Germany)

Targeted provocations: it’s our duty to challenge people’s mindsets

Presentation: 25 min

Humanity is facing disruptive change and multiple crises in a globally interconnected world. Long established certainties are called into question. Activists demand faster transformations as issues get more pressing. Others oppose change that would affect, or upend, their accustomed way of life. Recent years saw accelerating polarisation. Hardening positions, cliché and resentment impede dialogue. Trust in democratic institutions is declining.
Heritage interpretation is not neutral. Indifferent or thoughtless interpretation risks reproducing clichés, stereotypes and value priorities from the past that aggravate present-day crises. But interpreters also hold the keys to facilitate lifelong learning that helps people to deal with contemporary issues. Targeted provocations address specific clichés, stereotypes or habits which hinder constructive dialogue and meaningful change. Value-based interpretation provides a framework to identify interpretive opportunities for targeted provocations that must be turned into positive learning experiences.

Patrick Lehnes has worked as a researcher and freelancer in heritage interpretation since the 1990s. From 2010 to 2015 he served as director of Interpret Europe. In 2018 he was invited to the Structured Dialogue between the European Commission and the cultural sector on social inclusion. Patrick currently serves on the Expert Advisory Board of CHARTER, the European Cultural Heritage Skills Alliance.

Thorsten Ludwig (Germany), Max Dubravko Fijačko, Ivana Jagić Boljat (Croatia)

Implementing value-based heritage interpretation in training practice

Interactive workshop: 1 h 25 min

Since 2020, IE has reviewed its training programme to meet the requirements of value-based heritage interpretation, a term first introduced by UNESCO. During the workshop we will explore what this means in practical terms. After an introduction to the principles and innovations of the concept, we will divide into three sub-groups related to interpretive planners, writers and guides. We present some of the recent changes in the individual IE training courses, collect experiences from all attendees about expected opportunities and challenges in their own field of work and finally share our thoughts and insights.

Thorsten Ludwig, MSc Interpretation, worked at a German national park until 1993, when he founded Bildungswerk interpretation. For 12 years he was on the Board of ANU, the German association for environmental education. He is IE Certified Interpretive Trainer and has been Director of Interpret Europe from 2015-2021.

Max Dubravko Fijačko is a tourism professional with over 15 years of experience as the owner of a travel agency and Tour Manager, awarded by National award “Simply the best”. Dedicated to providing meaningful and holistic experiences, he is also an IE certified Trainer for Interpretive Guides committed to practical implementation of a value-based interpretive approach.

Ivana Jagić Boljat holds a Master’s degree in Tourism, Museology and Heritage Management. She is an experienced interpretive planner, and IE Certified Interpretive Trainer for guides and writers. Ivana is the owner of Visitor Friendly, a small business specialising in sustainable development and education.

Ivana Manevska (Serbia and Macedonia)

Interpreting Through Immersive Technology an Overview of Serbian cultural institutions

Presentation: 15 min

This research explores the use of immersive technologies such as VR, AR, and MR in Serbian cultural institutions, focusing on cultural heritage interpretation to enhance global competitiveness. Methodologically, the research employs a comprehensive approach, involving the collection and analysis of relevant literature and documents, coupled with a questionnaire designed to interview managers and employees of cultural institutions. The survey conducted in January 2023 among Serbian cultural institutions revealed that a modest yet significant proportion of managers and employees (14 out of 50) actively participated, expressing a generally positive outlook on their digital competencies, while indicating a growing interest in, and potential for, integrating immersive technologies, particularly augmented and virtual reality, into their cultural practices. The study concludes that these institutions are in the early stages of embracing technological innovation, offering opportunities for further development. The significance lies in contributing to the understanding of immersive technologies in cultural contexts, with original insights into Serbian cultural institutions. However, a limitation of the study is the small questionnaire response rate, suggesting a need for on-site research.

Keywords: immersive technologies, cultural institutions, heritage interpretation, technological innovation

Ivana Manevska has been engaged in heritage interpretation for three years through academic research, studies, and volunteering. Her master’s thesis was focused on interpreting natural and cultural heritage in Fruska Gora National Park. Currently, in her doctoral studies she is researching interpretative panels in the Fruska Gora National Park. and interpretation in cultural institutions. With two years of volunteering and experience as a tour guide at the Gallery of Matica Srpska in Novi Sad, Serbia, she has interpreted over six exhibitions. She has also done research on non-material cultural heritage interpretation, particularly Serbian celebration customs through film. Active participation in conferences, workshops, and projects related to interpretation demonstrates her commitment to the field.

Evarist March Sarlat (Spain-Catalonia)

Sustainability applied to guiding in natural environments: some lessons from experience in the field

Presentation: 45 min

This talk aims to give some examples of learning through experience as a guide and trainer of guides in diverse natural and cultural environments, mainly in Europe and Latin America.

The aim is to provide information from practice that can be valuable for other professionals in the sector and at the same time generate an exchange with the participants based on reflections on controversial or controversial aspects in the context of sustainability.

Evarist has been an interpreter guide for last 12 years professionally under the umbrella of the company: Naturalwalks. He has specialized in working in diverse kinds of tourism, natural environments, and related to the culture linked to the place, especially gastronomy and wellbeing. He has been a trainer since 2014 as a CIG trainer, with 29 courses to date in the context of the Iberian Peninsula and some Latin American countries (Colombia, Peru or Chile).

Michal Medek (Czech Republic), Iva Čaleta Pleša – IE training coordinators

Interpret Europe Training Programme

Presentation: 20 min

Session for institutional partners who are interested in the Interpret Europe training programme. What courses are on offer, how the training is organized and what is the qualification of the trainers? Can the courses be customized for institutional partners? We will deal with these topics in a short presentation followed by discussion.

Eleonora Narvselius (Sweden)

Eurovikings? Presenting Viking heritage in a sustainable European mindset

Presentation: 15 min

Less than a century ago stories about Vikings and references to the Viking mythology were actively used (especially in Germany and Scandinavia) to reinforce grandiloquence of national myths and authority of military elites. Presently Vikings mirror popular mythologies of a different kind. Vikings caught the eye of the EU heritage managers who discerned the potential for cultural memories about mobility, cultural contacts and sustainable lifestyles of the ancient northern seafarers to bring to the fore specific normative qualities of European identities. Since 1993 the Council of Europe has supported Destination Viking as one of numerous heritage routes in Europe. This network of Viking-related tourist sites is nowadays extensive and non-linear. Its proclaimed aim is ”European cooperation in linking Viking Age attractions and development and marketing of these attractions for tourists throughout Europe” (Egberts and Bosma 2014). The Foteviken Viking Museum, one of the initiatives connected to Destination Viking in Sweden, is especially instructive in this respect. This study argues that the popularity of the “Viking reservation” of Foteviken may give clues about a sustainable framework of thinking about the Viking heritage.

As a university lecturer in Applied Cultural Analysis at Lund University I have been studying heritage of migrations and memory cultures in the European borderland since 2012. Critical Heritage Studies is one of my key research interests. I have regularly visited ACHS conferences and published on the subject of Europeanization of cultural heritage in Ukraine, Poland and Sweden.

Monika Nethe (Germany)

Romantic ideas versus sober scientific research – Heritage Interpretation mediates

Presentation: 15 min

The romantic Liliental with its wealth of trees attracts a large number of visitors every year. However, the valley is managed by a renowned forestry research centre, which plants trees there for research purposes and sometimes has to remove them again after finishing the experiment. Sometimes this leads to great anger and incomprehension when favourite trees suddenly no longer exist.
Heritage interpretation can help to promote mutual understanding and demonstrate the social relevance of such research, especially as they can be important experiments in dealing with tree species in a changing climate. But the Liliental also has many other exciting stories to tell…

For 20 years Monika has been working as a geographer in interpretation projects and teaching, both regionally and internationally within and outside the university.

Conor Newman (Ireland)

Negotiating the culture-nature interface : the institution of early kingship

Presentation: 45 min

This paper examines early kingship as an institution created to moderate between culture and nature, and regulate the agronomic exploitation of natural resources. The underlying dilemma is a quintessentially human one—subsistence is existentially subordinate to establishing our place, purpose and worth. Early kingship traded on the axiom that sustainability relies on the equitable merging of culture and Nature. Today we would call this mutual sustainability of Nature and humankind. The paradigm speaks to the remarkable prescience of our ancestors concerning an issue that has developed into a full-blown global crisis. Heritage tells us, therefore, that our ancestors were wise enough to know that we must first ground ourselves in time and in place, in history and in geography, if we are to respond to the global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss in the holistic and collective manner that is so urgently required. Students draw from the study of early kingship lessons for today.

Conor is a lecturer in archaeology (1996-present), leading multiple field classes and public events. He was chairman of the Heritage Council of Ireland (2008-16) and is a specialist in early kingship. He is director of the MA Landscape, Archaeology, and Heritage at the University of Galway.

Kristýna Pinkrová (Czech Republic)

Transforming Mindsets through Engagement: Community-led interpretation of sensitive heritage in the (non-existent) Hindle region

Presentation: 15 min

This paper focuses on community-led dialogue about history and sensitive heritage on the Czech-German border, with an emphasis on transforming thinking through the engagement of local actors. Using an example from the fictional region of Hindle (districts of Domažlice/CZ and Cham/D), I show how the involvement of local communities as active participants, guides, teachers and lecturers and the presentation of regional history from both Czech and German perspectives improves the process of mutual understanding. The Hindle project focuses on overcoming prejudices and mental barriers by promoting dialogue between communities across borders. It aims not only to increase understanding of the history of the region on both sides of the border, but also to strengthen the regional identity necessary for the sustainable development of the area. It further seeks to inspire a change in thinking towards embracing cultural diversity and harnessing it for sustainable social transformation.

Kristýna has been actively involved in interpretation since 2009, first as an author of exhibitions and a guide in a regional museum. Since 2022 she has been working as a consultant. Since 2010 she has been a member of the Czech Association of Museums and Galleries and since 2019 a member of the Czech Association for Heritage Interpretation (SIMID).Kristýna is currently a PhD student in Public History at Charles University in Prague.

Ladislav Ptáček (Czech Republic)

Changing mindsets in nature conservation: Czech experience

Presentation: 15 min

This paper focuses on the complex change of mindset not only among visitors, but also among conservationists and politicians in the context of nature conservation in the Czech Republic. It identifies the need to evaluate and name the gaps in existing approaches to mindset change and highlights the importance of learning from these findings. It analyses the need to engage all stakeholders, including conservationists, visitors, politicians and other stakeholders, and the need for mindset change within each group. It discusses the importance of collaboration and initiatives that lead to improved understanding and dialogue between these groups. It considers the need to start by critically assessing existing practices and approaches to identify areas in need of mindset change, and sets out a pathway for incremental change that supports conservation in all its aspects.

Ladislav Ptáček has been active in the field of heritage interpretation for the past twenty years. Founder and chairman of the Czech Association for Heritage Interpretation (SIMID), he works as a free-lance consultant, contractor and trainer.

Ana Radovanac Živanov (Serbia)

Towards sustainability in the heritage protection through interpretive planning

Presentation: 15 min

The paper deals with an example of how one cultural monument, with the involvement of the local community and support of the local population, can be discovered, protected and presented in a way that is sustainable. The Empress’s city (Iustiniana Prima) was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527-565) in the south of Serbia. Archaeological research started more than 100 years ago and recently was stopped due to lack of funds. The most valuable artifacts, the mosaics of about 400 m2 were covered, protected and preserved.
In 1979, the Empress’s city was added to the list the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance of Serbia, and from 2010 it is on the Tentative list for nominations for the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia has a plan to develop the project to make an interpretive plan for the Empress city. The new funds are expected for the archeological research to present the mosaics in the visitors’ centre, as a brand new interpretive service. In addition, the new interpretive plan will engage the local population and stakeholders to launch a specific way for interpretive services that would promote this exceptional cultural monument in order to provide the best path to sustainability. The idea is that through co–creation of promotional activities, workshops and special interpretive services this will enhance the role of local people as heritage interpreters.

Ana is an Art Historian and works as a Senior Consultant at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia in Belgrade, at the Department for Research, Protection and Documentation. In addition, she is finishing her PHD thesis at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Department of Art History, at the Seminar for Museology and Heritage studies. She is also the coordinator of Interpret Europe for Serbia, promoting its ideas and goals in her country. After attending the interpretive planner course in 2022 in Ljubljana, she continued to work with trainers Valya Stergioti and Thorsten Ludwig on creating an interpretive plan for Serbia and in that way obtained the interpretative planner certificate. Fields of scientific interest include interpretation of cultural heritage, history of architecture in Serbia between two wars, conservation of cultural heritage, interpretative methodologies and concepts, memory studies, history of private life. She is an author of many professional and scientific articles, as well as a participant in domestic and foreign conferences and symposiums. She is a member of ICOMOS and Society of Conservators of Serbia.

Dragana Lucija Ratković Aydemir (Croatia)

Ecomuseums – vital allies of heritage and communities still, 50 years after

Presentation: 45 min

Ecomuseums, a concept originating in the 1970s, actively involve local communities in preserving and promoting their natural and cultural heritage. By fostering a sense of ownership and stewardship, these museums empower communities to interpret their unique identity.

Emphasizing the interconnectedness of nature and culture, ecomuseums integrate educational programs, cultural events, and community engagement, fostering sustainable practices and encouraging responsible tourism.

Ecomuseum Batana in Rovinj, Croatia, serves as a compelling case study. Beyond heritage preservation, ecomuseums promote community resilience, environmental sustainability, and cultural diversity, making them a vital force in the 21st-century cultural landscape.

Based in Zagreb and Istanbul/Cesme, Dragana Lucija started her career in the Ministry of Culture of Croatia. In 2005, she founded a niche company that connects culture and tourism. With an all-female team of Muses/Muses, she focuses on heritage interpretation, (eco)museology and sustainable cultural tourism. Dragana has a European diploma in cultural management and was a UNESCO scholarship holder.

Alenka Selčan Božič (Slovenia)

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword for Slovenian Beekeeping heritage

Presentation: 15 min

Beekeeping is one of the essential Slovenian heritages, rooted in the beginnings of modern European beekeeping. Widespread beekeeping in Slovenia, overseen by the Slovenian Beekeepers Association, which is dedicated to the wellbeing of the native Carniolan bee, is a heritage where sustainability and environmental protection mean more than just a buzzword. A sustainable approach and active environmental care are essential not only for beekeeping but also for the survival of bees, without which the entire planet is at risk. In 2022, Slovenian beekeeping as a way of life was added to UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage. People can learn about this heritage in various ways, from contemporary interpretation centres to personal experiences with local beekeepers. In this presentation, we will demonstrate how interpretation follows sustainable principles through the example of a vision for urban transformation into a bee tourism centre rooted in IE principles.

Alenka S. Božič represents Art Rebel 9, a private company dedicated to implementing quality digital and contemporary audiovisual solutions to various sectors. As a chief creative officer and certified interpretive planner, she is the creative force behind various interpretative experience centres, such as the Center of Large Carnivores Dina and House of Carniolan Bee.

Stefania Siano (Italy)

Understand the past, interprete the present and plan for the future. Heritage interpretation at Herculaneum.

Presentation: 15 min

Since 2017 the archaeological site of Herculaneum has been managed by an autonomous Institute of the Ministry of Culture, which immediatly placed at the centre of its strategy the engagement with the territory and the involvement of local communities, also by using value-based heritage interpretation.
Over the years, the interpretation of the archaeological and historical heritage has increasingly substantiated the Park’s action programme, gradually incrementing the involvement of the different actors of the territory and creating opportunities for reflection on the common heritage and shared interpretive experiences that seek to project the site and its territory towards a common future.
The presentation intends to examine and, at the same time, to asses the past six years’ activity, in which there have been critical issues, but also growing results.

Since 2018, Stefania has been responsible at Herculaneum for visitor services, teaching and training, exhibitions, events, relations with the territory and partnerships and tries to base all the activities on heritage interpretation. She followed the Interpretive Planner Course organized in Kotor by Interpret Europe and the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, located in Venice.

Bill Taylor (Scotland)

Addressing the climate crisis through a community and landscape based museum

Presentation: 15 min

Three different, but related, approaches reveal how we connect our communities with what has happened in our landscape in the past; what is happening now and how we build resilience for the future. The Cateran Ecomuseum in East Scotland covers 1000 sq km with a major fault-line separating fertile farm land in the south from mountain and moorland in the north. Since the Ecomuseum’s foundation in 2019 we have been working on connecting our communities with outstanding heritage across these different landscapes. The first approach engages residents in citizen science to understand past changes within our river systems and valleys. The second looks at the development of a community led exhibition showcasing agricultural changes that are addressing the climate crisis now. Thirdly, we will look at a strategic approach to funding river restoration within the Ecomuseum to better connect the communities with their river resources and the wider heritage assets of the area.

I have worked in heritage interpretation and management for nearly 40 years and have had an involvement in Interpret Europe since its inception. I have been involved in the delivery and management of many heritage interpretation conferences in several countries.

Phillip P. Thapa (Germany)

The ethics of changing others’ minds

Presentation: 45 min

That we try to persuade each other of what we believe to be true and good is a commonplace and often beneficial part of social life. More so, some situations are inherently about and for persuasion. When we attend a lecture or read a newspaper comment, we at least accept the risk of having our minds changed, and we often want just that, in that we want to learn something. The same applies to guided heritage tours. Still, heritage interpreters, like teachers or journalists, find themselves in a position of special trust and hence special responsibility. If they use it to challenge and influence their audience’s habits of mind, they have a moral obligation to make their agenda transparent and be prepared to support it with arguments, not just appeals or suggestive storytelling – or so I am going to argue. Introducing helpful conceptions of terms such as ‘mindset’ and ‘education’, I offer ethical analyses of a few case examples that include our responsibility to distant and future people.

Philipp P. Thapa is an ecologist, philosopher, and writer. He has worked in international conservation and development, taught ethics and environmental philosophy at several universities, and published literary writings and translations. As a fellow of Sustainable Europe Research Institute Germany, he leads the research under The Big Green (2023–27), an EU project on culture and sustainability.

Zsuzsa Tolnay (Hungary)

Sustainable exhibition on sustainability

Presentation: 15 min

Heritage interpretation more often than not touches upon sustainability issues of some form. However, it is time to consider not only the content, but also the form. Low tech exhibitions might not represent main-stream, and it is not to claim that low tech solutions are sustainable per se. However, when it comes to the afterlife of an exhibition, we are in trouble. Low tech solutions are quite often cheap, and it is cheap that is most available and most wildly used. However, when the opportunity came to develop a small travelling exhibition on composting, we felt obliged to think way beyond the heydays of the exhibits and consider its demise. It therefore became a compostable exhibition. It will reach mostly primary school children in the third largest city of Hungary, but we hope that we set a good example beyond this geographical area.
We should think more about the full life cycle of an exhibition, to become what we preach.

Zsuzsa Tolnay has been working with the nature-culture complex, often at World Heritage cultural landscapes. The challenges of how we grasp the sense of the place and create our own meanings of it have been an inspiration for her in the pursuit of heritage interpretation activities for the past two decades.

Maja Vidović (Croatia)

Karlovac and it’s rivers – tale of eternal love

Presentation: 15 min

Living in a wetland with four rivers would generally be considered a disadvantage. But Karlovac would never have been born if the situation had been different. Rivers have played an important, if not the most important, role in the history of this city. They defended it, developed it and made it rich and advanced. But they also regularly flood it.

Rivers define Karlovac and its people. And the people are in love with their rivers, enchanted by their beauty, relaxed on their banks, purified by their water. There is not a person in this city who does not have some memories in which Kupa, Mrežnica, Korana or Dobra do not play a role.

And these four rivers, like four sisters, are beautiful each in their own way and completely different.

Kupa is calm and serious, like the eldest sister, followed by moody and strong Korana, extremely beautiful and sensitive Mrežnica and, my favourite, wild and youthfully unrestrained Dobra.

Let me introduce you to them and tell you the story of the eternal connection and love of nature and people.

In May 2022, Maja Vidović completed the course for a certified interpreter guide and since then she has been enriching her tourist guidance with the interpretation of tourist attractions, translating the presentations into interpretation and a unique visitor experience. Working mainly in her hometown of Karlovac in Croatia, she wants to change the view of Karlovac as a military fortress and commercial river centre into a vivid landscape experience. In addition to guiding tourists, she also uses her acquired skills in lectures at the training course where future tourist guides are trained. With this presentation, she wants to leave materials that will be useful to all her colleagues in the interpretation of Karlovac’s rivers and the city itself.

Ondrej Vitek (Czech Republic)

Sustainability in interpretive guiding

Interactive workshop: 55 min

This workshop is based on a scheme used in our own CIG courses but differs significantly from the one officially provided. Sustainability is one of the key values for value-based interpretation. In this workshop, I use interpretive techniques such as open-ended questions leading to discussions, examples connected to guiding, and sharing personal experiences of participants. We will discuss a definition of sustainability stressing two key terms: ‘need’, and ‘limitation. With the three pillars of sustainability, I focus on their necessary balance, and mention greenwashing, too. History is reduced to just a couple of dates and names from international (Brundtland, Carson, Club of Rome) as well as Czech (Vavroušek, STUŽ) space. Examples of how sustainability has been included in courses will follow, with a discussion on the best ways sustainability can be included in a guided tour.

Ondřej Vítek is a long-term member of Interpret Europe as well as the Czech Alliance for Local Heritage Interpretation. He has been an IE certified interpretive guide since 2016 and a certified interpretive trainer since 2018. Ondřej uses his interpretation skills not only in his visitor monitoring and management position in the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, but also in his private activities focused on sustainable tourism.

Lars Wohlers (Germany)

Using SWOT-Analysis to start the Flame of Interpretation

Presentation: 45 min

Imagine a customer for whom you have successfully developed interpretive exhibitions. In the past, everybody was satisfied. The financial business of this particular customer has even improved quite a bit. Thus, money is not really a question either. Plus, the interpretive potential is huge, since the site wants to bring together historical local heritage with modern demands regarding sustainability. Sooo – why should anything go wrong?
Often, presentations highlight success stories. In this concrete project the presenter shows the whole picture. Despite very innovative participatory elements and visitor study aspects the presentation is about the pitfalls in strategic planning and implementation.
Using the example of the Watertower of Lueneburg, Lars Wohlers will develop the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of interpretive planning processes. One part will deal especially with the challenges of local involvement and co-creation that interpretive services are facing in such projects.

Prof. Dr. Lars Wohlers has been involved with Interpretation for 35 years. He worked as a guide in National Parks and visited these jewels of nature conservation in various parts of the world. Lars is also engaged with Zoos, Museums, historical sites and sustainability-oriented NGOs. He has experiences working in various countries of Europe, Africa, USA and Chile. His main areas of work include interpretive planning, visitor studies and training. He works part time at the International University (Tourism Management), part-time for his own business KON-TIKI, is a co-founder of https://eidcoaching.com/ and member of various national and international interpretation and visitor studies organisations.

Jasmine Zhang (Sweden)

Employing action research to link theories and practice of nature interpretation

Interactive workshop: 55 min

One way to self-criticize our own mindsets in the context of heritage interpretation is to regularly revisit how theories and practices of interpretation are relating to each other. Despite the fact that theories and practices are co-evolving in interpretation, they are often seen as done by either researchers or practitioners. How do we as researchers and practitioners of interpretation learn together, when trans(inter)disciplinary research is increasingly needed for future sustainable transformation? In this workshop we explore this question with a focus on action research. In a turbulent world aspiring to a sustainable future, action research can supplement traditional research and development strategies with more creative, innovative and swift actions that are grounded in the pursuit of a common good. Through interactive activities we wish to create a space for sharing experiences, good examples but also challenges, and thereby identify key issues that we need to tackle.

Jasmine Zhang is a researcher at the Swedish Center for Nature Interpretation. Jasmine’s experiences with interpretation include working with the interpretation system of national parks; interpretation’s role in place-making in rural tourism; interpreting embodied knowledge of environmental changes; interpretation of multifunctional landscape, and how interpretation can facilitate dialogues.