Module 4 – Museum Communication

An exploration of audiences and interpretation

Guiding questions:

  • What is interpretation? Why do museums need it and who is it for? How to develop an interpretational plan?
  • What is museum learning and who are its target audiences? How can museums tailor make programs that suit its wide audiences?
  • How can museums adapt their offers for today’s audience’s needs?
  • Together with museum users, what museum methods include the visitors in interpretation and learning?

Museum interpretation and learning covers everything that helps visitors to make sense of objects and collections in museums. Good interpretation and learning programs should communicate effectively and create meaningful experiences. But its creation takes time, practice and planning. This module gives an introduction into the interpretive planning of a museum display or exhibition, as well as the design of learning programs. Starting out by looking at mission statements of selected museums we reflect our institution’s aims in connecting with visitors. Which audience do we want to reach and what do we want them to experience? Based on these considerations, participants will learn the essentials of interpretive planning which include the identification and profiling of audiences, the development of a theme hierarchy and narration, which media to choose in order to communicate and how to evaluate impact.

We investigate how museum users can influence the content and meaning of museums, and why this is important. We explore methods that help bring institutions and visitors together in interpreting the collection. We will also identify common challenges such as communicating objectives within the museum/team and learn to find solutions creatively in order to engage visitors on an emotional as well as cognitive level.