Storytelling applies to nearly everything we do. Whether it is to inform, persuade, entertain, motivate or inspire, we all tell stories every day of our lives. Yet despite their power, not all stories are effective in holding their audience’s attention or communicating the messages they set out to convey.
In heritage locations, narrative tends to be used narrowly, as a method to communicate the findings and research conducted by the domain experts of a cultural site or collection. It’s typically a single-user experience and can often lack emotional resonance or impact.
Emotive seeks to change that.
Emotive works from the premise that cultural sites are, in fact, highly emotional places. That regardless of age, location or state of preservation, they are seedbeds not just of knowledge, but of emotional resonance and human connection.
We believe that drama-based narratives containing careful reference to a site’s cultural content have the power to transform heritage and museum visitor experiences, encouraging repeat visits, facilitating direct and ongoing interaction and deepening knowledge transfer.
From 2016-2019, the Emotive consortium researched, design, develop and evaluate methods and tools that can support the cultural and creative industries in creating narratives which draw on this power of ’emotive storytelling’.
Impacts & Results
EMOTIVE aims to move away from privileging didactic learning outcomes to explore other ways audiences feel and experience cultural heritage. Through emotive experiences, visitors are able to interact with the site’s interpretation, change it and move it in the direction they want. The significance of such an approach for facilitating engagement, resonance, care and commitment to cultural heritage cannot be overestimated.
Our research suggests that the key challenge is thus in managing the balance of providing emotive experiences that enable learning rather than eclipsing or privileging it, therein ensuring impact. EMOTIVE has been experimenting with different approaches in employing emotion to foster a deeper connection and understanding of heritage and considers its successful application to this end as one of its main challenges.The outcome puts tools in the hands of professionals to create engaging, memorable stories, and enable the public to enjoy and share these stories, from anywhere. It engages audiences in a new way, putting emotional stories at the heart of museums and heritage sites.
An important objective of EMOTIVE is to study, assess and analyse the effect that the tools and experiences designed have on both authors and end users/visitors. The project also aims to evaluate how the overall interpretative philosophy underpinning it and the power of ‘EMOTIVE experiences’ engages different types of users and in different contexts and situations.
The challenge is to define and describe a detailed methodological and practical approach for evaluating emotive experiences, with the aspiration to become a useful framework for others in the field. It is of key importance to identify what should be evaluated in different types of experiences and what is the most effective way to accomplish it. To this day there has not been a standard evaluation framework to guide cultural heritage experience evaluation and, more importantly, not one that takes emotions into account.