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Crafting the Story of the Site

Saturday, 1 March, 2014 to Wednesday, 1 July, 2015
Marc van Hasselt
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 

As part of the Dialogue with the Visitor, Archeon is working on creating tools that all partners can use to achieve two things:
A) Craft the Story of their Site;
B) Improve the Visitor Experience.
These two goals are closely linked - as AOAM, we are responsible for presenting our collective material and immaterial heritage to a broad, interested public. The first step is determining exactly what we want to present. Hence this activity within the context of the OpenArch project.

We have asked all partners to work with us on a framework for Immaterial Heritage. In recent years, most museums have made a push for digitizing and presenting their collections online. This means that objects are photographed, their details are noted down and they are placed in some sort of database. If an article is published about an object, it can then be linked to this entry in the database, making information more readily available.

Since AOAM do not fit the mold of traditional museums, this system cannot always be used for what the partners do when presenting the Story of the Site. Many stories are about immaterial heritage: stories (not just literature), customs, rituals, skills, etc. Not all of these historical activities leave material objects to be placed in a museum. So we decided that the unique part of the AOAM - the complete experience coupled with live interpretation of historical events, crafts, etc. - should also be registered somehow. Hence the Framework.

The framework for immaterial heritage seeks to document the stories that are told in AOAM, either linked to certain objects or linked to cultural customs, beliefs, rituals, etc. The partners were invited to give their own input on the framework and afterwards, to use it for their own site. It is outside of the scope of this project to describe all the stories told within the AOAM associated with OpenArch, but Archeon asked them to give at least a few examples. By presenting the way we tell our stories and inviting discussion on how we do this in a European context, we seek to learn from each other and improve our record keeping.

The concrete product should be a collection of short descriptions, with some photographs of the relevant reconstruction and presentation.

In the end, an online presentation of the results, with the relevant tools to continue this work after the OpenArch project is completed, should give the partners enough to work with to make the Story of the Site that much better, thereby improving the Visitor Experience.

The AOAM partners in OpenArch have provided a large amount of examples of their Story of the Site. The PDF files attached to this report reflect the rich background of their presentations, as well as the solid scientific basis on which they are built.

As each site is unique in both presentation and interpretation, there are noticeable differences between the documents. Viminacium provides a number of examples of their finds and presentation. Foteviken takes a broad approach to a single reconstruction, outlining the stories that can be told in relation to it. Calafell has written up outstanding documentation on two processes and one reconstruction. The Hunebedcentre also describes how their reconstructions (made during the project) came to be. AÖZA chose to present a part of their landscape project as well, lending new insights. Each partner brings something unique to the table, which allows readers to figure out what they themselves would present at their own sites.