Thinking In Active & Visitor-Centered Verbs

Icons of people using telescopes, throwing away trash, riding a bicycle, planting a tree, reading a book, and recording a podcast(You can download this job aid as a handy, one-page reference)

Interpretive experiences are about transformation – helping visitors find new things about themselves and the world around them. At their best, they’re journeys of self-discovery.

That’s all well and good, but how do you even do that? How can you help visitors find new ways of living in their world after a transformative experience in a resource?

The key is thinking in verbs. What are the actions you’re hoping visitors will take in their own worlds after they’ve left your resource. These changes to their everyday lives mean the experience in the park had a real impact.

To get someone to change in big ways, they need to practice the change in small ways. That’s where interpretive experiences have real power and promise. Parks, museums, and other powerful places can be spaces for exploration and growth – practicing new ways of living in the world.

Active verbs help us to see what change could look like. Below you’ll find lists of example verbs – centered around four skills that museums, parks, and other cultural spaces hope to grow within their visitors. How do the experiences you create help build visitors do these things?


  • Build
  • Innovate
  • Express
  • Improvise
  • Create
  • Express


  • Listen
  • Understand
  • Ask
  • Feel
  • Value
  • Relate


  • Investigate
  • Test
  • Touch
  • Try
  • Explore
  • Go


  • Consider
  • Expand
  • Advocate
  • Wonder
  • Construct
  • Justify

Try It Out Yourself!

Grab a blank piece of paper and complete the stem statements below for an interpretive experience in your resource. Make sure to choose verbs from at least two different categories. First, imagine what visitors will do in their lives. Then create a way they can actively practice that skill in your resource.

After their experience, visitors will _____(Verb #1)_____  _____(complete the sentence)_____.
The visitors will also _____(Verb #2)_____  _____(complete the sentence)_____.

While in the resource, visitors will _____(Verb #1)_____  _____(complete the sentence)_____.
The visitors will also _____(Verb #2)_____  _____(complete the sentence)_____.

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