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Interpretation of cultural heritage sites the case : Boston National Historical Park in The U.S.A.

Yıldırım Esen, Sibel
This study focuses on how cultural heritage interpretation can effectively be planned and operated as an integral part of preservation process. The ICOMOS Charter for the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites, which was initiated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), offers professional principles for effectively interpreting cultural heritage sites. This study apply these principles as analysis and evaluation criteria of the case study. The Charter principles include ‘access and understanding’, soundness of ‘information sources’, attention to ‘setting and context’, preservation of ‘authenticity’, planning for ‘sustainability’, concern for ‘inclusiveness’, and importance of ‘research, evaluation and training’. Considering the necessity of correlating these international principles with interpretation practices, this study analyzes and assesses interpretation at the Boston National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park Service in the US; and at the same time tests the practicality of the Charter principles. This park is composed of eight nationally significant historical sites located separately in an urban context. This study examines certain aspects of the park that affect the effectiveness of its interpretation activities i.e., management policies, organizational model, partnerships with stakeholders, fiscal resources, management planning, and interpretive planning. Besides on-site interpretation at three sites of the park - the Charlestown Navy Yard, Old South Meeting House and Paul Revere House- are analyzed in detail within to the ICOMOS Charter framework. Finally, recommendations have been developed for the ongoing work of the ICOMOS, for the Boston National Historical Park as well as for other cultural heritage sites.