Your Story Matters was developed in 2022 by the LWL Museum of Archaeology and Culture, Westfälisches Landesmuseum in Herne (LWL-MAK), NEEEU Spaces GmbH from Berlin and an advisory board of 12 volunteers. The project was developed as part of 'dive in. Program for Digital Interaction' of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) in the NEUSTART KULTUR program.
The LWL-MAK is a state museum in Westphalia and a central showcase for the preservation of archaeological monuments. Its exhibits are a material mirror of the human history of this region. In order to inspire the wider public, the museum tackles unusual topics and realizes bold and special exhibition concepts. These concepts are linked by excavated finds and exciting stories. A staging space and dramaturgy corresponding to the theme of excavated finds makes the content tangible for the audience. At the LWL-MAK, millennia-old stories are combined through mediation, unique methodologies, and the use of state-of-the-art technology, through target group-oriented offers and through communication on various social channels. Participation, touching and trying things out are expressly encouraged at the LWL-MAK.
Your Story Matters is part of the museum's digital strategy. The goal is to bring stories and perspectives of the population - and in this case specifically the migrant population - into the museum setting. The background to this project is the recognition that storytelling is a fundamental human experience. But the question is, which stories are told, and whose voices are heard in the process? The question of 'who speaks' has become central to the Museum's commitment to diversity and participation today.
Your Story Matters brings the stories of the people into the permanent exhibition of the LWL-MAK. These stories will become part of the staging: '280,000 Years of Migration', which will be created in the permanent exhibition in 2023. The staging conveys that migration has always been part of human history. Your Story Matters adds the present-day reality of migrants' lives to the archaeological-historical perspective. Selected contributions from the application can be seen in the permanent exhibition. However, Your Story Matters can also be used exclusively online if you do not want your own contributions to be seen in the permanent exhibition.
Your Story Matters creates a space where people can share their experiences in their own words. Users can capture an image of physical objects using their smartphone, bring them into the digital application “room” and describe them there. In this way, their own experiences can be illustrated and made accessible for others to experience. Your Story Matters is intended to be a channel for underrepresented voices. The stories show that migration shapes our society in many ways.
To broaden the perspective of the museum's team, and our digital partner NEEEU Spaces GmbH, an advisory board of potential users was assembled. This brought together 12 people with very different backgrounds, ages and experiences. In August 2022, a two-day workshop was held in which the participants collected ideas for the concept and design of the digital application. The individual stories of the participants were particularly important for this because it was from these stories that the question of how they could best be depicted in a digital application was derived. Using objects they had brought with them, such as cooking utensils, musical instruments, songbooks, books, postcards and other mementos, people told their own personal stories. The advisory board supported the development of this application from design, naming and testing through to implementation.
We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the project and shared their perspectives and stories.
Your Story Matters is based on the tool strange.garden created by Marta Soto Morrás and Luuk Rombouts.