Wounded: Alternative Narratives of Conflict, Casualties and Care

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.

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Digital engagement creates a wealth of data - how can we use it? What problems does this create?

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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?"

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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.

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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.

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The main focus of our project was on the impact of the Holocaust on young people like us. So as a starting point for our work, we began by making some short films about who we are and where we come from. We made four films as a class that show what a varied bunch we are and the many journeys that we and our families have taken to end up in Manchester.
From What we can learn from the Holocaust for our lives today by WebsterYr6

Other strands of the project involve the Thackray Medical Museum and the National Holocaust Centre.

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We consume digital information in a huge range of ways.

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This project is just the start. We know that there are many different ways of enhancing audience engagement. Co-curation or co-creation using digital tools is just one of these, and the landscape is moving very rapidly.

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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.

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