Do we really need another Charter?
Most existing cultural heritage charters and documents deal primarily with issues of conservation and management; none specifically addresses the principles of effective communication of the significance of cultural heritage sites. In light of the increasing worldwide interest in heritage education and public interpretation, this draft charter serves to delineate the intellectual, philosophical and social contexts within which interpretation may be most productively carried out.
How is “Interpretation” different from “Presentation”?
“Presentation” denotes the carefully planned arrangement of information and physical access to a cultural heritage site, usually by scholars, design firms, and heritage professionals. As such, it is largely a one-way mode of communication. “Interpretation,” on the other hand, denotes the totality of activity, reflection, research, and creativity stimulated by a cultural heritage site. Although professionals and scholars play important roles in this process, the input and involvement of visitors, local and associated community groups, and other stakeholders of various ages and educational backgrounds is essential to transforming cultural heritage sites from static monuments into places and sources of learning and reflection about the past, as well as valuable resources for sustainable community development and intercultural and intergenerational dialogue.
Does the ICOMOS Ename Charter deal with the content of interpretation?
No. The specific content of each interpretive program cannot be determined by universal criteria or standards. The ICOMOS Ename Charter serves only to delineate shared principles of communication that encourage intellectual integrity, authenticity, inclusiveness, and sustainability as desiderata for the formulation of specific interpretive programs.
Will the Ename Charter Initiative develop practical guidelines in addition to general principles?
It is hoped that the continuing process of review and revision of the Charter draft will stimulate thinking about how interpretive programs can be most effectively designed. Reaching international and cross-cultural consensus on the principles of Interpretation will pave the way for more practical training courses, handbooks, and textbooks to be designed. To that end, the Ename Charter Initiative will sponsor international and regional colloquia and workshops on the implementation of interpretive programs in the coming years.
How can I or my institution become involved in the Ename Charter Initiative?
The current review and revision process is being carried out through the institutional structures of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). Individual members can offer comments and suggestions through their national committees and through the various international scientific committees of ICOMOS. In addition, comments and suggestions from the wider heritage community and the general public — as well as participation in special activities related to the Ename Charter — are always welcome and appreciated.