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Bringing the Stories to Life

‘The interpretation of the built environment for public consumption has a long and not tremendously successful history. Heritage interpretation all too often involves plonking down a load of printed panels that soon get vandalised and become indecipherable and eyesores in their own right’I

Themes are the central ideas or storylines behind the interpretive system. Themes should be readily understood by the visitor and should be reiterated in various forms (and in various ways) across different media and locations to emphasise their point. This thematic consistency provides clarity of purpose and an organisational structure to this area’s identity. In turn, themes can be illustrated and substantiated by sub-themes and other supportive information across the environment, which delve into the detail of particular stories, places and people.

A further layer of interpretation is the list of potential topics and interpretive opportunities that put the flesh on the bones of each sub-theme. These topics and opportunities are not exhaustive, merely an indication of the wealth and breadth of story-telling possibilities on offer and should be seen as a springboard for ideas rather then a prescriptive list. The best stories always come from those who know the City and its people the best – the community – and it is the texture and depth that these hidden stories offer that will make interpretation stand out.

We recognise that the interpretive challenge presented by this route has an integral navigational element. We need to develop ‘cultural wayfinding’ techniques that will make the transition from finding it to finding out about it as seamless and as easy as possible for the visitor. We need to make sure that that the visitor will, at any point on their journey along the route;

  • Know that they are on the route … through cues that will remind and reassure
  • Know where they are on that route … through orientation and direction
  • Understand the inherent significance of individual sites (who or what is interesting about a particular place) as well as their significance in a wider context
  • Understand how to get to the next point of interest on the route and how long that journey will take

Cultural way-finding and interpretive interventions along the route need to address;

  • The route itself …the combination of streets or pathways which comprise the visitor journey
  • Hubs … both existing and potential places of encounter and engagement, key junctures along the route which include College Green; the Castle; Christchurch; the Liberties; St James’s Gate and Kilmainham
  • Individual sites

‘Already, we are using digital databases and mobile apps to augment the contemporary cityscape. CultureNOW’s Museum Without Walls app features thousands of geo-tagged sites in dozens of cities, allowing users to learn about historical and cultural sites of interest as they move through the city. In London, apps like Historypin and the Museum of London’s StreetMuseum allow users to hold their phone up to view historic images layered over the contemporary cityscape. Tools like these allow for the communication of past uses and conditions in ways that preservationists could have only dreamed of a decade ago.’II

  1. Porch, R. Using Art across the City The Civic Trust for Wales Locws
  2. Crain, Brendan MAS Context Issue 11: SPEED

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