Yesterday we had a meeting in the office with the graphic design company Flintriver about interpretation panels at sights for groups. This got us thinking about interpretation so on the principle that seeing things for real is much better that just talking about them Cara took me along to Preston Grangeto see their interpretation. This is an old coal mine, brick and tile works now turned industrial heritage museum just east of Musselburgh. If you are interested in industrialarchaeology this is defiantly the place to go. The area is scattered with huge bits of industrial archaeology that you are free to wonder round. Some of these are associated with the mine and works and others have been brought for the museum. It has a grate feel as there is very little interpretation and you are left to wander of your own accord so its like you are stumbling across these amazing objects. On reflection I think more museums should be like this as it feels like you are making discovery’s rather than having someone show you things, which is much more exiting.
The interpretation at the site is delivered on a variety of boards in different states of preservation. The most interesting though were two old photos that had been printed onto perspex and mounted between posts. The perspex is positioned so the visitor can line up surviving structures with those in the picture and so see what the spot looked like in the past. Although this would not work on every site I think the principle hear is quite exiting and could perhaps be used with reconstruction drawings that tied in using natural features like hills. I certainly know that when I visit a site I am unlikely to read information boards but I may glance at a picture and used in this way they could really bring a monument to life.
The Perspex panels with photos showing the exact spot in the past.
The other verity of interpretation being used is an audio tour accessed using your mobile phone. This could be great in areas with reception but I wonder how many people are willing to spend money to get interpretation?
Audio tour sign
One of the sites more impressive imported artefacts.