Interpretation

Interpretation methods can include panels, trails, guided tours, apps, exhibitions, labels, events and the creative arts amongst others.

Botanic gardens and arboretums worldwide attract millions of visitors a year and are therefore well-placed to showcase the value and importance of plants and the need to conserve the world’s natural resources. Interpretation is an essential element of a botanic garden, connecting the garden to its visitors, adding to the visitor experience, helping to develop new audiences, inspiring people’s interest in plants, making the collections meaningful and helping to gain public support. Good interpretation is not just about transmitting information in a passive way, but should actively engage the visitor and help them make sense of what they are seeing or experiencing by revealing something that they may not know or by getting them to think a little more critically about an object or concept. To do this effectively you therefore need to know a lot about your audience and what your ‘take home’ message or theme is. Interpretation methods can include panels, trails, guided tours, apps, exhibitions, labels, events and the creative arts amongst others.

wooden panel cut out credit - RBGE
Exploring soap bubbles - credit MUSE
Touch screen interpretation - credit MUSE
Interactive screen book - credit MUSE
Alnwick Poisons Garden gate UK - credit RBGE

BGCI has provided a number of support materials on interpretation best practice for its members including: conference seminars and workshops during BGCI’s education congresses; articles in BGCI’s education publication (Roots issue 6.1 see below); an ‘Interpretation’ section in BGCI’s Manual on Planning, Developing and Managing Botanic Gardens; and delivery of an Erasmus+ funded 12 week blended learning module on Interpretation (as part of the LearnToEngage project) BGCI has also produced a series of downloadable signs to help botanic gardens interpret plants within their collections.

Interpretation resources

  • Accreditation Examples: Signage and Interpretation

    Services for Botanic Gardens / Tool / English
  • Care for the Rare

    Services for Botanic Gardens / Publication, Tool / English
  • Interpretation - Energy Plant Signs

    Public Engagement / Tool / English