Visitor studies at interpretive sites to improve the education for sustainable development

KÖME started a one and a half years long project in co-operation with KON-TIKI Interpretive Planning, Training and Evaluation and Budapest Business School University of Applied Sciences (BGE) in December 2017. The main goal of the initiative is to raise the awareness for sustainable development with the help of easily achievable visitor evaluation in the management and development of interpretive sites.

According to our experiences the visitor oriented evaluations of interpretive programs are almost entirely missing in the Hungarian institutions, and the necessary know-how is insufficient as well. In addition the approach based on the ‘education for sustainable development’ and ‘planetary boundaries’ concepts declared by UN appears in the offer of only a couple of visitor sites. However this could be the key to the relevant interpretation of most of our heritage for the present and future.

The significant part of the project will consist of the field works focusing on the thematic concepts above and carried out by university students and volunteers in three partner institutions. We were looking for sites which altogether illustrate a wide heritage and management character. In addition the existence of high level interpretive practice, the great number of visitors and the diverse relationship to sustainability were important aspects as well. So we contacted the Hungarian Open Air Museum Szentendre (Skanzen), The Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism and Budakeszi Wildlife Park.

Our qualitative examinations will focus among others on the visual preferences, the paths and interpretation limits of the visitors, or the attracting and holding power of different presentation elements to achieve interpretive aims.

The research will be completed with a conference in February 2019 to be organised at BGE with a strong focus on the Hungarian situations and the conclusions of the project. After the event a joint volume of KÖME and BGE will be published to promote the development of visitor studies in Hungary.

The implementation of the project is supported by DBU (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt).

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