digital mapping and heritage interpretation
This two-week project focused on new forms of exploring and mediating the Jewish cemetery of Zittau as one of the last authentic sites of Jewish cultural heritage in the region. Using digital tools and methods of heritage interpretation, participants created content for a virtual tour of the cemetery, providing information about the people, places, personal stories and historical events connected to it. The virtual tour is now used by local educators to engage more and different people in the topic.
What is "heritage interpretation"? Heritage interpretation is a methodology that was originally developed to more strongly engage visitors of U.S. national parks in the 1950s. Interpretation does four things: It PROVOKES visitors' curiosity and interest in what may be an unfamiliar topic or theme, it RELATES a historic, cultural, or natural site to visitors' own knowledge, experience, background, and values, it REVEALS the significance of the site, and it helps people ENJOY an educational experience. It's a set of methods used by many museums, historic sites, nature reserves, and other sites around the globe.
In this project, we used methods of heritage interpretation to understand and interpret the Jewish cemetery in Zittau. The aim was to develop the historic site into a space where Jewish life, death, and heritage in the region can be comprehended in a relatable way - on-site as well as on-line. After an introduction to the relevant historical sources and materials, participants received basic training of working with heritage interpretation, interpretive planning, and interpretive media. They worked in small teams, each focusing on one specific aspect of the heritage site.
The work was accompanied by a cultural and educational program. We visited other Jewish heritage sites in Görlitz (GER) and Sieniawka (PL) and learn about the
cultural specifics of the border region of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Participants had the chance to spend time with locals, talk to them about their work and ask questions. At the
end of the project, the virtual tour of the cemetery was presented to the public.