This Yarn explores how we might work with audiences to co-curate challenging histories. I hope that this stimulates discussion and debate about how digital tools can be used in the museum, and in particular how they can enable co-production of alternative narratives.
Digital tools are changing the heritage landscape. An AHRC project at Leeds - "Experiencing the Digital World" - took the latest academic research and compared themes in the literature with current practices in the heritage sector. Our central question was: "what is the cultural value of digital engagement with heritage?"
We identified several challenges facing the use of digital tools in museums and heritage organisations. Each came with associated opportunities to involve audiences in new and innovative ways. One of the most prominent themes was co-curation or co-creation: working with audiences to create, organise or interpret content for new exhibitions and forms of engagement.
The themes which we identified were:
1. Financial resources
2. Relative value of digital heritage
3. Location of cultural value
4. Relationship with time
5. Enhanced value through participation
6. Cultural value, space and place
They all present challenges and opportunities. This project - "Digital Tools in the Service of Difficult Heritage" - is a trial of the digital storytelling tool, Yarn.
Other strands of the project involve the Thackray Medical Museum and the National Holocaust Centre.
Today we're going to be exploring the strand of the project which involved the Science Museum and members of the Leeds North Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club. This was based around the exhibition "Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Care". By considering responses to the exhibition and alternative stories, we want to think about how museum and heritage projects and exhibitions could use tools like Yarn to enhance their engagement with communities and visitors. We hope to encourage discussion and debate, and perhaps even think about future projects.