The Ladder of Heritage Interpretation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter offers a novel contribution to the discussion on how heritage interpretation can contribute to public education. It examines hegemonic heritage interpretation and its consequences, the various goals of heritage interpretation and the opportunities to develop it as a form of public education. I address a range of approaches with the framework of a ladder of heritage interpretation, climbing from (1) consumption and entertainment, to (2) knowledge and truth-telling, (3) learning and understanding, (4) imagination and immersion, finally to (5) reparation and reconciliation. While this ladder simplifies the complex realities of the actual world, the goals described depict the general framework of 'heritage interpretation', each step aligning meanings with goals. I use further metaphors in the shape of university tutorials and lectures to indicate the key issues in heritage interpretation. Heritage interpretation as a form of public education can be considered a type of reflection and co-creation that promotes critical thinking, inclusion and diversity. Heritage interpretation benefits from open dialogue and assessment of the past from multiple perspectives. Without public participation and reflection, official claims of heritage interpretation for public education remain superficial.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Heritage: 50 Years and Moving Forward
EditorsNeil A. Silberman
Place of PublicationInternational Centre for the Interpretation and Presentation of World Heritage Sites under the auspi
PublisherChae Su-hee (Director General, WHIPIC)
ISBN (Print)979-11-980698-7-0
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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