Mon, Jan 17

DSGN 4101: Themes

Today's objectives

  • Review assignment 1
  • Themes
    • What is a theme?
    • Creating great themes
    • Using themes to generate ideas
  • Interpretive planning
  • Interpretive plan review




Interpretive plans







Reading assignment

1: Read chapter 2 ("TORE") of Sam Ham's Interpretation: Making a difference on purpose. Interpretation: Making a Difference on Purpose at the NSCAD library

2: Read an interpretive plan - I've assigned a different one to everybody. Be prepared to give a quick summary of what you thought the theme or themes were, how helpful (or not) the plan was to you as a designer, and what you learned about interpretation from the plan, during next class. Some of these are long - skim for content, decide if you need to skip long appendices, etc, and make sure to focus on the big picture, not details.

Name Plan Link
Bridger, Kian Smithsonian Gardens SmithsonianGardens_MasterPlan.pdf
Chen, Minqi Prairie Line Trail PLT-InterpretivePlan.pdf
Cheng, Rae George Town Heritage-Interpretation-Masterplan.pdf
Cirtwill, Nicola C. Cupar Town Cupar Interpretive Plan 05.06.2017.pdf
Guo, Chengliang Sussex Heritage Coast SHC Interpretation Plan Final 2018-10-10.pdf
MacDonald, Ellen A. St Peters Interchange m8-heritage-interpretation-plan-volume-1.pdf
MacKay, Sara M. Tasmania Tasmania Thematic interpretation_manual.pdf
Northey, Caitlin N. Missoula HRA-Interpretive-Plan-Missoula-nov12-download.pdf
Piercey, Cara M. Gilcrease Museum Gilcrease-Museum-Interpretive-Plan-2.pdf
Shannon-Dwyer, Neive L. Clemson University Clemson Report-3-10-2017.pdf
Simon, Jeremie M. Guildford Museum YSYM_Interpretation_Plan_09_02_18.pdf
Smith, Lia G. New Zealand interpretation-handbook-complete.pdf
Todd, Kaitlyn National Trust of Australia 20110208SharingourStories.pdf
White, Melanie C. Mahone Bay Museum Mahone-Bay-Museum-Interpretive-Plan.pdf
You, Ran Valdez Museum VALDEZ MUSEUM Master-Interpretive-Plan.pdf


Assignment 2: Thematic ideation

Imagine you have been chosen as the lead designer and planner for an interpretive site.

Choose one topic.

This is speculative research, and these projects are not really going to happen, so don't contact any community members, experts, etc., for help. This is only a concept development exercise - you don't want people to think you are just going to come along and build something in their backyard.

Dartmouth whalers

The site for this interpretative installation would replace a current monument (this one). How do we see whaling today? What stories and perspectives might we include? How do we make the link from the whalers of the past to our present day? The experience you create would be located roughly here.

Leatherback sea turtle

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is an endangered species that is found in the waters just off Nova Scotia. How can we make people care about it and want to protect it? The experience you create would be located roughly here.

Container traffic

At this container terminal, ships carrying containers come and go every day. What is it that visitors may wonder about? What might we want to talk about here? What's important and interesting? The experience you create would be located roughly here.


With some basic online research, propose 3-5 possible themes for the site. Make sure the themes meet the requirements of a good theme, based on our work in class and the Sam Ham reading. Do the readings first. You may also include notes on any topics that you think are important to consider.

Submit a 1-page document, for on-screen presentation, that shows the themes.

Make sure your name, the date and the name of the course is present on your 1-page presentation. You do not have to use any images in the presentation.

Due: Sun, Jan 23. Upload the PDF file to Brightspace.

Name the file: YOURLASTNAME_DSGN4101_Assign2.PDF