Client: Nationaal ArchiefHow do you bring old records to life? With a story of course! For the Nationaal Archief we developed an exciting interactive quest through a specially designed story archive together with exhibition designer Platvorm. In the exhibition ‘Who am I, who were you?’ you experience how time, place and the circumstances in which you are born influence the possibilities and choices you do or do not have
Children, from primary and secondary education, discover through familiar and less familiar historical persons that equal treatment and equal rights cannot be taken for granted. If the treasure hunt has not been booked by a school, it is open to other visitors with an adapted programme.
How does it work?
This interactive exhibition in the National Archives offers four different programmes that schools can follow with their pupils: Right and wrong in the Second World War, From home and hearth, Trade and slavery andFight for your right. Historical figures are linked to each theme.
After an introductory film and a short group game about the chosen theme, the children and adolescents in groups of 3 with a tablet and 2 torches explore the specially designed dark archive cave. Within half an hour each group has to unravel the life of one of the special characters. Thanks to the tablet, they can chat with their character. While chatting, they learn what he or she has been through and can ask questions about it. The characters also give them assignments. They have to search in different places in the room for the records that reveal the secrets of their character.
The archive documents are the important puzzles they have to solve in order to move forward in the game. You can therefore see the pupils working diligently with the old documents. The answers they find in the archive documents confront them at the same time with special, cheerful or painful moments in the life of their character. Throughout the whole treasure hunt, the children are challenged to empathise with their character and to think about what they would do if they were in the same situation.
Old documents must be kept in the dark. In this way, they will be preserved for longer. We have made clever use of this fact. With the help of interactive light we guide the groups very subtly through the space, or rather they do this themselves. Each group follows its own colour and because it is controlled by the software in the tablet and by what the children do during the game itself, the light changes every time at the right moment and leads them to new places in the treasure hunt. In addition to a tablet, each group also gets two torches. This allows them to take a closer look at the objects they find. The dark archive, the different colours of light and the torches make it an exciting quest. Moreover, it helps the children to focus.
What would you do if you were given away as a child and grew up in a distant country? And what if you want to study, but you can’t because you’re a woman? Do you actually have something to choose when you are born into slavery? The search explicitly challenges children to empathize with other people and to form their own opinions. They don’t have to agree with each other, but are stimulated to form their own opinion every time.
Afterwards, all the groups come together on a large projection of all the stories found and compare the different characters with a museum teacher from the Nationaal Archief. They will talk to each other about the different opportunities the different characters have had and the different choices they have made. And what would they have done themselves?
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