Public Perceptions: The Utility of Narrow-Scope Visitor Surveys to Improve Cultural Resource Interpretation

Author(s): Elliot Schultz

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Archaeologies of the Eastern Jemez Mountain Range and the Pajarito Plateau: Interagency Collaboration for Management of Cultural Landscapes" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

As budgets for resource preservation and protection are outpaced by increases in visitation, managers in many parks, monuments, and protected areas depend on public interpretation as a cost-effective strategy to safeguard sensitive cultural and historical landscapes. Interpretative programs are an effective avenue for reinforcing resource protection narratives, cultivating institutional support among allied stakeholders, and building public interest in underrepresented or controversial cultural subject matter. To maximize the impact of resource interpretation, thorough assessments of visitor perceptions are crucial. However, designing a rigorous survey program targeted to improve resource interpretation can be a highly complex

enterprise: costly to develop, time-consuming to design, and difficult to analyze by interpretative specialists. This study explores the utility of generalized, narrow-scope, visitor surveys as a surrogate for more complex interpretative statistical analysis. Using the example of a data collection operation from the Los Alamos unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, this exploration will concentrate on the benefits and challenges of developing meaningful interpretative outreach strategies with limited technical resources. The study includes a discussion of the unique problem of attempting to extrapolate a generalized visitor experience from surveys of highly specialized populations, and the difficulties inherent in using non-robust datasets for program development.

Cite this Record

Public Perceptions: The Utility of Narrow-Scope Visitor Surveys to Improve Cultural Resource Interpretation. Elliot Schultz. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450799)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25070