Two-dimensional exhibits, such as this one at Great Smoky Mountains NP in the 1950s, exemplified early interpretive endeavors. (Great Smoky Mountains NP, HFC)
Both archeology and interpretation have been part of the history of the NPS from its earliest days. Although their roles and relationship have gone through some changes, they have both contributed to the educational and resource management missions of the NPS. Visitors seek something special when they visit national parks. Interpreters have an important role to play in helping them to connect their interests with the meanings of the resources and to find relevance to contemporary life.
Interpreters have developed many different tools and techniques for encouraging people to care about NPS resources. Interpretation is not just talking to people or presenting information. Interpretive products contain relevant and provocative material and information, and they involve specialized techniques. Flexibility in style, presentation, and method provide a range of options for communicating important concepts about archeology.
Throughout this chapter, when we refer to interpreters, we mean anyone who is seeking to understand and apply interpretive techniques. Archeologists, that means you!
For Your Information
National Standards for Interpretation
These competencies represent the NPS national standards for interpretation in ten benchmark areas of interpretive work. They stand as a goal to foster interpretive excellence nationwide in NPS areas, at every stage of an employee's career. Refer to them as you set a course of action for developing as an interpreter.
Interpretive Development Program Competencies
The Interpretive Development Program identifies essential "Benchmark Competencies" for all interpreters in Ranger Careers positions. Volunteers and partner organizations can also use the specific competencies that apply to their work.