Branding the beauty – red chair moments from Parks Canada

In a nod to the shift from the experience to transformative economy in site management and interpretation, Parks Canada has been placing red chairs in scenic locations around its National Parks. These are designed to not only provide a passive viewpoint experience of natural heritage and landscape, but also generate a proactive sense of adventure in the visitor (the transformative bit) who is encouraged to seek out the locations where the benches have been placed.

The programme has been running for around three years, having started in Gros Morne National Park and has featured in social media and advertising across the country, with each Park taking its own approach to promotion.  The hashtags #ShareTheChair and #TimeToConnect hook in to the idea of shared outdoor experience and connecting with nature to bring about wider wellbeing.

The chairs themselves have heritage background, built in the Adirondack or Muskoka style, are bright red and carry the Parks Canada organisational logo.  The chairs can also be bought from the Parks Canada website (children and adult sizes available).

It is an interesting approach by the organisation, though has attracted some criticism – but as a site intervention of experiential design which incorporates a call to action, heritage, branding, visual stimulus, and landscape interpretation, it is effective.  I hope to capture my own red chair moments in the next month and will no doubt participate in #ShareTheChair as I encourage a couple of teenagers to disconnect from their phones for a moment.

In the UK, we have seen smaller scale equivalents at individual sites with National Trust branded deckchairs, and very subtly branded picnic benches at English Heritage sites.

Seminar Weds 22 Jan – What matters and why: fun with heritage!

The next seminar in the Spring series will be led by Kate Clark, an international Visiting Fellow with us at UCS, based currently in the New South Wales Government, Australia.

Kate Clark

Kate is a museum director and heritage manager, with a special interest in concepts of value and how they inform decision-making in heritage.  She has worked in with Sydney Living Museums, the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Ironbridge Gorge Museums, and has written about heritage policy, public value, significance, sustaining heritage and industrial archaeology, as well as museum practice.

Kate’s workshop will range widely across ideas about cultural heritage and its value to communities, the economy, environment and society, using techniques she has developed in working with community groups. It will touch on the recent museum branding work she has done with Sydney Living Museums.

The seminar will be held on Wednesday (not the normal day!), at 4.30pm at the Waterfront Building, UCS Ipswich campus.  As ever, please register with Julie Barber if you’d like to attend. Email: julie.barber@ucs.ac.uk