Evaluating heritage interpretation services, media, presentations & exhibits

Evaluating Heritage Interpretation Media, Presentations & Exhibits

Just how interpretive is your heritage interpretation?


The development of heritage interpretation services, panels, media, presentations and exhibits is a big investment. It costs time, money and effort to plan, research, write, design, test, fabricate and install heritage interpretation, so it seems only be sensible to evaluate whether your time and money is, or was well spent.

Unfortunately a huge amount of what people erroneously call heritage interpretation isn't actually interpretive. Heritage interpretation isn't the same thing as heritage information. Heritage interpretation it is a very specific way of communicating information using interpretive themes, to a known target audience based on planned outcomes and pre-determined learn, feel and do objectives.

For something to qualify as genuine or real heritage interpretation it must:
  • Provoke
  • Relate
  • Reveal
  • Have message unity
  • Address the whole
  • Be audience focussed
  • Accomplish specific outcomes

The effectiveness of heritage interpretation can be evaluated based on these qualifications - if it doesn't tick all these boxes, it isn't technically heritage interpretation!

Is your heritage interpretation 'pseudo interpretation' or the real thing?


Perhaps you would like to evaluate whether your heritage interpretation is 'pseudo interpretation' or the real thing?

We have developed a range of evaluation tools to test wether your interpretive services, panels, media and exhibits are genuinely effective heritage interpretation, pseudo interpretation or just information. You can use the following simple evaluation tests on panels, labels, interactive exhibits, scripts, audio, live interpretive presentations and more...

We recommend that all heritage interpretation exhibits, panels, scripts and other media are pre-tested prior to fabrication or launch as a matter of course, however these evaluation tests that can be undertaken at the design and pre-fabrication stage and/or later after the interpretation has been installed.

Test 1 - The HDC heritage interpretation acid test
Test 2 - The HDC heritage interpretation outcomes evaluation test
Test 3 - The HDC immersion & design dwell time test
Test 4 - The HDC audience body language test

Experts in the evaluation of heritage interpretation


HDC International are experts in the evaluation and testing of heritage interpretation with over 30-years experience in the evaluation and testing of failing heritage interpretation...and fixing it when it doesn't work.

Contact us if you need an independent evaluation of your interpretation.

Front-End Evaluation


Front-end evaluation is conducted during the interpretive planning stage of a project, when themes, outcomes, LFD objectives, audiences, story lines, and program ideas are being considered.

Front-end evaluation concentrates on getting input from potential visitors by means of interviews and/or focus groups, to find out what kinds of information they need and would like to know, and how this information could be presented in a meaningful, interesting, and cost-effective way. Misconceptions about the subject matter are also revealed at this stage, often leading to specific content and presentation elements designed to counter them.

Formative Evaluation


Formative evaluation is conducted after planning and before the fabrication of interpretive media, when mock-up testing can be carried out.

Formative evaluation is intended to “catch” design and/or content problems before they become a part of the final interpretive media, when they are often difficult and expensive to fix.

Summative Evaluation


Summative (also known as Remedial Evaluation) is conducted after final media production, when the total “package” can be evaluated and final adjustments can be made.

In a comprehensive evaluation program, the conduct of summative/remedial studies often reveal problems that were not, or could not be, identified during the earlier stages of development. For example, visitor-flow problems are often revealed only when the actual configuration of all the elements of the exhibition are in place. Similarly, dwell time issues become obvious at this point, and can often be corrected by relatively minor adjustments.

Contact us if you need an independent evaluation of your interpretation.