What's Your Story
Using technology as a catalyst for engagement to aid in art therapy
What’s your Story? is a co-funded project between Happy Museum, Sian Hutchinson and the Wales Center For Behavior Change. The project comprises an app to build engagement, enjoyment and ownership of cultural heritage objects in the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery.
Increasing visitor agency is a key theme in museum studies, with an emerging body of ideas on both subtle and overt ways in which ‘museums can facilitate, and not just impart meaning’ (Petrov, 2012). Similarly, two key aspects of psychological resilience are a sense of creating value, and of having agency in the world. The first promotes motivation, self-esteem and further engagement, the latter drives self-belief and a greater connection between the individual and their community. New technologies offer dynamic opportunities for engaging audiences and increasing visitor agency, creating what Nina Simon calls ‘the participatory museum’. In the participatory museum, visitors ‘construct their own meaning from cultural experiences’ (Simon, 2010). As more of our activities move online, embracing technology will be key to the Happy Museum’s core proposal to reimagine museums for a changing world.
The WYS? app is used to scan a QR code which is ‘attached’ to an object in the museum. The user is given additional information on the object along with curated audio in English/Welsh and user generated content.
Each object has an additional interface allowing the visitor to record their own audio. Anyone can record audio, from museum professionals to casual visitors, in Welsh or English. In the longer term, audio will be able to be shared for reuse in a number of different ways; adding it to a public collection, sharing the recording on social media or retaining it for future personal use.
Essentially, the technology is designed to promote agency and ownership of our cultural heritage. Research suggests that a proportion of the population, including specific demographic groups, feel disenfranchised with mainstream culture (Coffee, 2008). By enabling individuals to ‘put their mark’ on artefacts, the project will not only promote a sense of community and encourage personal creative expression, but increase social capital.