Subject coordinators

Interpret Europe's subject coordinators are responsible for specific fields of interest that play an important role in the development of heritage interpretation in Europe. At present there are three subject coordinators leading their own teams:

Cultural Heritage Coordinator:
Patrick Lehnes (Germany)

It was back in 1995, during holidays with my family at Snowdonia National Park in Wales: We came across simple leaflets which presented heritage sites in a much more inspiring way than what I knew from Germany. Curious to find out more, I went to the Park's head office and was directed to the "interpretation unit". This was the first time I heard about "heritage interpretation". This changed my life.

That happened when I had just concluded my studies of geography and biology at Freiburg University. I stayed there as a researcher and carried out pilot projects in the German Black Forest to test the interpretive approach for rural tourism destinations. EU funded projects on quality criteria for heritage interpretation provided opportunities to work with international partners.

In 2002, I founded an interpretation consultancy as a spin-off on the university campus. Besides projects "at home" I worked as a trainer and mentor for masterplanning and implementations in various European countries between the Mediterranean, Baltic and Caspian seas. It was exciting to collaborate with local project teams in different cultural contexts. It was also the time to take part in NAI's certification courses as a Trainer for Interpretive Guides (CIT), Interpretive Hosts (CIH) and as Interpretive Planner (CIP).

Together with my wife Bettina and some international colleagues, I prepared the founding of Interpret Europe, which finally happened in 2010. As Executive Director, I was then responsible for its development during the first five years. Preparing our annual international conferences, especially the study visits to various heritage sites in different European countries, was one of the most inspiring experiences.

Questions of what various cultural backgrounds can mean for interpretive meaning-making roused my interest in the philosophies that underlie heritage interpretation. This involves discussion of our role as interpreters within plural European societies.

Natural Heritage Coordinator:
Peter Phillipson (UK)

My first career was as a professional ecologist. I worked for several nature conservation organisations, in the public and voluntary sectors, before becoming Senior Ecologist for the Peak District National Park Authority. Here I worked for ten years on some of the most sensitive multi-use heritage sites in Europe. The relationship between people and the natural world has always been central to my life and work.

My ecological work convinced me of the crucial importance of effective communication and awareness-raising to wildlife conservation. I became a director in TellTale, working in heritage communication, visitor experience planning and interpretation. I also became a trainer, leading in-service courses in habitat conservation at Losehill Hall, then the country’s foremost training organisation for countryside staff.

The natural world remains central to my interest in interpretation. I work to find sustainable and rewarding ways to bring people closer to nature at a species, habitat and landscape level. In my work with TellTale I plan and create great visitor experiences of wildlife, often in sensitive sites and landscapes. I am active for nature in my local community too; for the last fifteen years I have managed Buxton’s community woodlands for people and wildlife.

Live Interpretation Coordinator:
Marc van Hasselt (Netherlands)

I‘m a historian based in the Netherlands. I specialised in the Middle Ages but have a passion for heritage interpretation of all periods, specifically live (or costumed) interpretation. I believe in the personal contact live interpretation provides, as one of the strongest tools in creating understanding.

After finishing a Research Master’s degree at Utrecht University, I started work in Archeon, one of the largest open-air museums in Europe. I worked there as an interpreter and historian, but was quickly asked to help with the organisation of events and the management of international projects. The OpenArch project, which ran from 2011 to 2015, introduced me to the benefits of international cooperation in the field of heritage interpretation. I managed Archeon's part in the project and, among many other things, the production of a guidebook on Live Interpretation.

During the OpenArch project, in 2013, I attended a conference jointly organised by IMTAL Europe and the International Museum Theatre Alliance. Impressed with their work, I joined immediately. In 2015, I was asked to take over the position of Chair on the Board of IMTAL Europe. IMTAL organises training sessions and seminars aimed at professionalising live interpretation at heritage sites. They also produce a magazine twice a year filled with articles on live interpretation from all over Europe. Currently, IMTAL and Interpret Europe are looking at how they can best cooperate to spread and professionalise the use of Live interpretation throughout Europe.

In March 2016, I co-founded Novitas Heritage with my friend and colleague, Joerie van Sister. Together, we advise heritage institutions and organisations on various subjects, specialising in the use of live interpretation. I still work in Archeon regularly, creating new interpretation programmes, giving tours and performing as a gladiator in their Roman arena.

Our mission

To serve all who use
first-hand experiences
to give natural and
cultural heritage a
deeper meaning