University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Personalizing interactive digital storytelling in archaeological museums: the CHESS project
Maria Roussou, Laia Pujol-Tost, Olivier Balet, Stavrina Poulou, Niki Dollis

Last modified: 2011-12-13


Archaeological museums can be boring to many people because they do not connect to the personal narratives they carry with them and constantly re-build. Indeed, memory institutions need to sustain and even reinforce their attractiveness if they do not want to find themselves standing still “on the conveyer belt of history”. They must make cultural heritage more engaging, especially for the young generations of ‘digital natives’. A challenge for cultural heritage sites is to capitalize on the pervasive use of such media, while also facing the competition from the leisure-based industry, which attracts visitors through spectacular experiences that include educational and cultural qualities. This is where novel research kicks in. Recent investigations in interactive digital storytelling, personalization and adaptivity, and mixed reality, coupled with mobility-enabling systems, promise a lot to make archaeological knowledge more effectively and engagingly conveyed to the public.

The aim of our paper is to present for discussion the potential added value of personalized interactive digital storytelling for archaeological museums through the specific example of an ongoing EU funded project. The principal objective of CHESS (Cultural Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling) is to research, implement and evaluate an innovative conceptual and technological framework that will enable both the experiencing of personalised interactive stories for visitors of cultural sites and the authoring of narrative structures by the cultural content experts. Essentially, CHESS proposes to create narrative-driven cultural “adventures” (thus (re)injecting the sense of discovery and wonder) through hybrid structures, which adapt continuously to visitors, extend over space and time, and involve users in multiple roles and with different interfaces. To achieve this, CHESS will integrate interdisciplinary research in personalization and adaptivity, digital storytelling, interaction methodologies, and narrative-oriented mobile and mixed reality technologies, with a sound theoretical basis in the museological, cognitive, learning, and leisure sciences. This tightly integrated framework is applied and tested with in two cultural heritage renowned sites, the New Acropolis Museum in Athens (Greece) and the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse (France). The different nature of both cultural institutions provides an interesting testbed for the implementation of interactivity in archaeological museums, where in contrast to science museums, interaction is not inherent to the exhibition but added by technology.


archaeological museums; digital storytelling; mobile devices; personalisation