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Interactive digital storytelling and tangibility in cultural heritage museums

Written by Josefin Lilja

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Cultural Studies




Bachelor Thesis: Defining a museum Although the word "museum" has a direct meaning, it is more difficult to accurately define the word. Science is not poetry. It is difficult for museums themselves to agree on their purpose and meaning (Alexander and Alexander, 2007). The word museum comes from Latin and ancient Greek mouseion. This word has different usages in different eras. From the very beginning it was considered a temple dedicated to the so-called Muses. Known for being inspiring in different arts (Alexander and Alexander, 2007). The fact is that museums have existed in the Western world in a form since ancient times. There are conflicts between different parties regarding their main objectives. It can be said that it is preservation of objects, while others may say that it is to educate the public. Collections Choose private or public collections, focusing on everything from cultural heritage to science. The definition used in this article is that a museum is a non-profit organization that owns a space, whether physical or virtual, that collects and stores tangible or intangible objects for public viewing, reaction and interaction (Alexander and Alexander, 2007 ). 3.1.1. The purpose of cultural heritage museums Protecting tangible and intangible cultural heritage is important because it can help us determine who we are and where we come from (UNESCO, 2003). In an era when new ways of communication bring us closer to people around the world, it may be useful to protect cultural heritage and showcase its diversity, while intolerance towards them is growing (UNESCO, 2003). If museums are seen as a place to learn culture, then heritage is inevitable because it helps shape the culture we see today. It helps us understand our own location, cultural background and history, and promises to better understand the complexity of the world and its international relations. People have always believed that everyone has the right to receive cultural education. Therefore, a place that can be visited is needed (UNESCO, 1997). Legacy can be understood as what we have left and what we have left, but it is also a patchwork of our definition of ourselves (Wallace, 2013). Culture, another term that is not easy to define, is basically defined as the beliefs, customs, and arts of a society that learns through the transfer of knowledge (, 2014). Gradually, our visits and experiences to cultural heritage museums are also changing, thanks in part to newly developed digital technologies. As museums become more audience-centric than ever, people can participate more actively in their visits (Simon, 2010). Explain the definition of interactive storytelling. Story and storytelling must be separated from each other. The story is definite and static. It is not a living organism, but an unchangeable whole. On the other hand, storytelling is a process, life and breathing. Static like astory cannot be interacted because it doesn't "do" anything. Since the story is still being produced, the interaction with the storytelling is easy. To master the concept of interactive storytelling, abstract thinking is orderly, and the so-called "plot" must be abandoned. Not a plot, but a grid of possibilities composed of the same "truth" (Crawford, 2013). Although the story jumps from one scene to another in a strict line, the conclusion is finally reached. Interactive storytelling is more like a spider web, which can weave different lines in all directions (Crawford, 2013). Adding technology to storytelling will create more possibilities. Computers and technology have helped traditional media to improve, but to make full use of its potential and create new things, rather than using it as a means to achieve goals and combining it with interactive narratives (Crawford, 2013). The field of interactive digital narratives is still young. It started slowly in the 1980s, and conducted some experiments in the following ten years (Crawford, 2013). There is a growing interest in interactive digital storytelling. In the early 1990s, two regular meetings were held, namely centringon interactive digital storytelling. In 2008, the two merged, ICIDS: Created the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (, n.d.). Interactive digital narratives are growing, not only because of the emergence of new technologies such as the Internet of Things, but partly because the Internet of Things connects physical objects to the Internet. Innovative and fresh ideas also appeared in film production. An example is the documentary Bear71 screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, where audiences can become part of the interactive forest by using their smartphones (Weiler, 2012). Interactive digital narrative is a very open medium that can be implemented and adapted in different ways. This makes it very suitable for use in very diverse cultural heritage museums. Interactive digital narratives create possibilities for a more personalized approach to artifacts and stories in the exhibition. 3.2.1. Tangible digital interactive narrative One of the possibilities of new media in interactive digital narrative is to retell stories similar to those told by a campfire. When the audience is actually present when telling the story, she can influence the way she tells or perceives the story. The audience can talk to the storyteller, or subconsciously put themselves in a situation where they feel the story in a different way. For example, a person can sit close to a tree and a terrible story is told, which may affect the person to feel more afraid due to the darkness and the unknown approaching. Ubiquitous computing provides opportunities for interactive storytelling. Read Less