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Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of History
P. David Dillard
The Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia is an outdoor living history museum that uses costumed interpreters to tell visitors about their major themes. By understanding that the Museum seeks to talk about the daily lives of people from West Africa, England, Ireland, and Germany; their immigration experience to America; and how these people interacted with each other and Native American groups to form an American culture, interpreters can pass on this information to visitors. Interpretation, as a bridge between the historical information and the visitor, is a conversation between the interpreter and the visitor where the interpreter can use a variety of techniques to make the objects, ideas, and sites have meaning. By following the two C’s and understanding the ART of interpretation, the staff at the Museum can more effectively communicate with visitors. One of the biggest challenges for interpreters is to clearly distill all the historical information for visitors without dumbing or watering down the information.
This manual compiles current scholarly on interpretation and 200 years of history for the five countries represented at the Museum. With the help of Museum staff, this Manual contains the best and most recent information for the training of future and present interpreters. Interpreters reading this manual should come away understanding the history of the Museum, the meaning of interpretation, how to practice interpretation, the content information about each of the exhibit sites, and how the major themes of the Museum can be communicated at each exhibit.
Sullivan, Megan T., "Interpretation training manual for the Frontier Culture Museum" (2015). Masters Theses. 52.