Interpretive Planning

An interpretive plan is often the first step in developing a major exhibition, museum, or historic site: a roadmap to ensure that the project will fulfill the organization’s mission and be relevant to visitors. It’s not an easy process and can be time-consuming, but it’s always worthwhile.

Usually developed by a team of people who have a stake in its implementation, the plan sets out a vision for what the project will accomplish, defines and analyzes the audience, describes the story’s key messages and suggests the best methods and media to convey it clearly and concisely. For projects with school audiences, it includes learning objectives and related curriculum standards. Sometimes the plan includes sketches, floor plans, or tour outlines, but it always identifies goals and objectives, and ends with a set of prioritized recommendations.

An interpretive plan is a vital document. It can help build consensus among stakeholders, raise money, communicate with important constituencies, provide confidence that the organization’s investment will result in a great project, and help the team avoid unintentional barriers to visitors’ enjoyment and learning.

Sometimes interpretive planning is a stand-alone project to be implemented over time; sometimes it’s an integral part of a continuous planning/design/implementation project. Even long-established organizations can benefit from a fresh look at their offerings every few years. I’ve led or been a major player in interpretive planning for historic sites, museums, and exhibits, including:

  • The Lincoln Motor Car Museum at Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, Michigan (with Group Delphi)
  • Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, Detroit
  • Detroit Institute of Arts’ DIAaway mobile trailer experience (with MRA Experiential Tours)
  • Applewood—The Charles Stewart Mott Estate, Flint Michigan (with Susan McCabe)
  • Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores Michigan (with Susan McCabe)

Whether  you’re just starting out or have a project that’s lost in the wilderness, contact me. I can help!