Greetings from Las Vegas! Last week, Greg Palumbo, Exhibits Manager and I, Diana Stone, Education Coordinator went to Las Vegas Nevada, NV for the National Association for Interpretation’s National Conference. We met up with educators (interpreters) and exhibitors from across North America and the world. It was an interesting conference many people might realize that Vegas is more than lights and casinos, it is surrounded by national parks and historic sites. For an education junky like myself this conference is heaven from Geocaching historic sites around the city to interpreting Native American history through song. My goal is to bring new ideas and inspirations for developing new educational programs at the Museum.
Tuesday, I went a pre-workshop with Jack Gladstone, a poet, interpreter, and musician, which focused on 20th Century Native American history. He used music to teach us about events of the past one hundred years. I found that the message of using empathy and common human experiences to connect a diverse audience with another culture to be an essential component to any cultural program. It is important that visitors not just learn the facts about Seminole culture and history, that they also make an emotion connection with their experience.
One point of inspiration was a side trip I took to the MGM’s CSI: The Experience where you become a crime scene investigator. It takes you through the basic steps of solving a crime that is similar to the ways in which an archaeologist researches a cultural site. I hope to include those learning strategies into Seminole Archaeology Day this spring with the THPO (Tribal Historic Preservation Office). If your interested in learning more about this event we will have some more information posted on our website in a couple of months.
Friday, we took a fieldtrip to the Valley of Fire and Lost City Museum. Simply breathtaking, both figuratively and literally we were a few thousand feet above sea level. We hiked through mountains and cannons; walked right up to petroglyphs thousands of years old. The whole experience made me feel small. Exploring this vast desert landscape gave me a lot of respect for the people who lived there for thousands of years.
I long lasting memories I have of this trip will be the people met, my kindred spirits in interpretation, of whom I share many hours of shop talk. People who care deeply about the stories they tell. For every 15 minutes of a tour or program you experience hours of preparation and thought were put in to it. Conferences like the National Association for Interpretation have a direct impact on improving the visitor experience. So whether you come out to our Museum or one of the many hundreds of parks, zoos, historic sites, know that the people giving you a tour or program training and studying to give you a multisensory learning experience in the hopes that you will care about the people and places around you.