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Interpretation Planning

Read this before downloading documents:

Personal use of the documents made available for download on this site is encouraged.  However, no document or any portion thereof may be used for commercial purposes, nor may they be published in any medium or format without prior written permission from the State of California.  All commercial rights to use materials made available on this site are reserved by the State of California unless expressly granted otherwise in writing.  For commercial use, contact the Interpretation and Education Division at (916) 654-2249 or Interpretation.Staff@parks.ca.gov.


California State Parks Interpretation Planning Workbook (2013)

This workbook covers Interpretation Master Plans, Interpretation Action Plans, Interpretive Prospectuses, and interpretive project and program plans. It was created to help parks professionals develop practical plans. It provides guidance on research and documentation, the planning process, plan structure, and important elements to consider when developing an interpretive plan.

Sample Interpretive Service Plans

Interpretive Service Plans are plans for interpretive programs, exhibits, and other interpretive projects. These final plans are provided here as examples.

Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Exhibit Plan (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Fort Ross State Historic Park Visitor Center Interpretation Project Plan (PDF, 2.6 MB)
Angel Island State Park US Immigration Station Hospital Interpretation Project Plan (PDF, 4.7 MB)

Guide for Creating a Furnishing Plan: Furnishing and Interpreting Historic Structure Museums (1994)

This guide is intended to assist park staff responsible for developing furnishing plans for historic structure museums. This guide speaks to the novice, but also provides useful support materials for those more experienced. Sections I and II define historic structure museums and discusses their appropriate use in interpretation. Sections III and IV describe the process of developing a furnishing plan, and includes some basic guidelines for conducting research. Section V is the outline for writing the furnishing plan, and Section VI discusses some of the follow-up actions required to go from the approved furnishing plan to the finished and furnished historic structure museum. An Annotated Bibliography follows, reviewing several sources that deal with both material culture studies and the development and interpretation of historic structure museums. Finally, a Resources section lists some of the typical sources of information one would use in gathering information for the Furnishing Plan.

Interpretation Master and Action Plans

The California Department of Parks and Recreation highly suggests that, prior to the establishment of any new interpretive facilities or programs, an Interpretation Master Plan be prepared.  An Interpretation Master Plan serves to guide park staff towards realizing their interpretation and education goals.  The Interpretation Action Plan defines and prioritizes specific tasks that will help park staff accomplish those goals. 

Click here for more information on Interpretation Master and Action Plans, as well as those plans that have been completed and approved.