It’s not a stretch to say the art of interpretation was born at almost the same time as the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. Here in the Interpretive Delivery department, Interpreters are following in the footsteps of Freeman Tilden, who was one of the first people to set down the principles and theories of interpretation in his 1957 book. He claimed that, “Interpretation is an educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information.”
We take his claim seriously and are seeking to extend it a little. Educators, including interpreters, are currently promoting “21st century learning” with an emphasis on creativity, culture and collaboration, especially with respect to social media. There are many goals for modern learning, ranging from preparing students for work in changing economies, building positive and caring relationships, to cultivating their own individuality, which is the unique contribution they can make to their community.
For our newest exhibit, Sea Monsters Revealed, which opened Mar. 5, 2015, we are looking at unique ways to actively engage and educate our visitors. One of the goals of this exhibition is the demystification of the “monstrous” creatures of the deep which, although unusual and frightening, are well adapted to life in a habitat very different from the terrestrial ones we are familiar with.
One activity visitors can participate in during the exhibit is answering the question, “What is a monster to you?” and then drawing, writing, and sculpting their answers. We will be encouraging guests to tweet pictures of drawings and sculptures, as well as explanations, to broaden and deepen the story we tell.
We’ll also be inviting guests to play, “Let’s Get Kraken” with our intepretive delivery hosts, where visitors will be invited to learn more about different sea monsters and after a series of questions and games, decide if these mysterious creatures are really monsters after all.
As it says in the Sea Monsters Revealed exhibition, “With every new species we discover, we find another blueprint for survival, another stroke of genius in the vast masterpiece of nature.” With every drawing and tweet, we will see imagination creating its own masterpieces.
Entrance to the Canadian Premiere of Sea Monsters Revealed is included in the price of admission to the Aquarium.