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We are proud that our recently refurbished Queen's View Visitor Centre has been shortlisted for the prestigious Association of Heritage Interpretation 'Discover Heritage 2015' awards.

White building with slate roof with a black silhouette artwork on the side, depicting a woman in large dress and man holding an umbrella above

The visitor centre – an iconic and much loved destination in Highland Perthshire – had a complete internal makeover during 2013/14. The exterior of the buildings has been refreshed and a large balcony area added to the café facility which overlooks the forest. Car and coach parking facilities have also been extended to cater for increased numbers of visitors.

Hamish Murray, Communities, Recreation and Tourism Manager in Tay Forest District said: "With the refurbishment of the visitor centre, we've created a top flight experience that can compete in the modern tourism sector – something that will really give all our visitors that 'wow' factor experience. It's modern, open, airy and light and a place that people will want to come back to, time and again."

What is heritage interpretation?

Heritage interpretation is all about telling the stories of special places in an engaging and understandable way. The interpretation we produce for our forests comes in many shapes and sizes – from leaflets and webpages to exhibitions, displays, panels and guided events. It is all designed to help visitors get the most from their visit, and appreciate the unique natural and cultural heritage of the forest.

Interpretation at Queen's View

The new interpretation is designed to tell the story of Queen's View and the surrounding Tay Forest Park. We also used humour to create of a sense of fun for visitors and to add to the site's personality. Finding Queen Victoria's diaries online, recording her visit, was very useful!

Internal wall of visitor centre showing several leaflets to choose from

The interpretation was planned, written and designed in-house by our Design and Interpretation team, who worked closely with local staff.

Alan Chalmers, Design and Brand Manager, explains: "The site lent itself to using a variety of design approaches to create an experience that would engage visitors in different ways.

"For example, in the café, the interpretation is more background decoration, designed to communicate the story of the site in a more relaxed manner.

Internal wall of cafe with image of cup of tea on wall

"Whereas in the information room we have used a mix of 3D sculpted trees, 3D map model, birch panels, and digital screens which show high quality images of local wildlife.

Internal wall of visitor centre showing information on a variety of subjects

"All of the interpretation contributes to the creation of a 'personality' for the site, which combined with the materials used, would help visitors to make connections between the Queen's View, the wider Tay Forest Park and ultimately Forestry Commission Scotland.

"New web pages were developed for easy pre-visit planning and post visit interaction. A new Queen's View site leaflet was developed to promote the site and communicate its special qualities. A new Tay Forest Park guide map was developed, including Queen's View but also promoting a range of other destinations within the Forest Park and further afield to offer a more holistic visitor experience.

"High quality external graphic panels onsite allowed a clear welcome point to be available all year round, even if the centre is closed. An external metal cut out of Queen Victoria gives a fun and immediate clue to the site's history."

Sturdy wooden outdoor bench with carved words 'The Queen's Pew'

About the award

Shortlisted entries will be visited anonymously over the summer by AHI site judges. The winners will be announced at the AHI conference on 21 October. The AHI Discover Heritage Awards are the only UK and Irish awards to recognise excellence in all types and sizes of heritage interpretation whether held in museums, historic buildings, visitor centres or any type of outdoor location.