What was Culture Shock!?...it was ordinary
people telling extraordinary stories..."
The Culture Shock! project has used the motivational power of museums and collections to make a difference directly in the lives of more than 550 people who have created their own digital stories as part of the project, and indirectly many thousands more who have viewed the stories online or at broadcast events across the region.
In 2005, Culture:Unlimited (formerly the Campaign for Learning in Museums and Galleries (CLMG)) set out, in their manifesto “Culture Shock”, a vision for how museums could contribute to cultural identity, cohesion and citizenship, and how this was relevant to the core purpose of museums. The vision suggested that by collecting new stories and artefacts, and by storytelling and showcasing people’s experiences museums can ‘cross the barricades between cultures’.
In response to this manifesto, Culture Shock!, the project, was developed. It has been an exciting two year project based in North East England collecting digital stories from people across the region. Over 550 people have engaged in digital storytelling workshops to create their own personal digital stories, learned skills in IT, creative writing and communication and taken part in
group dialogue and discussion with one another.
Culture Shock! is currently one of the largest digital storytelling projects to take place in the world. All of the Culture Shock! stories have been inspired in some way by museums and galleries or are inspired by heritage and things that are important to people. All the finished stories have been permanently added to museum collections, broadcast online and at special events.
The stories aim to raise awareness of the diverse heritage of the people of the North East and encourage people from similar and different backgrounds to explore, document and share their heritage with each other and the wider North East community.
Culture Shock! will help to make museum collections more relevant to the lives of people living in the region and creating these new digital stories will mean that people can capture elements of their lives in museum collections for people to enjoy for years to come.
Culture Shock! was a partnership project led by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and includes Beamish - The Living Museum of the North, The Bowes Museum, Hartlepool Museums & Heritage Service and Culture:Unlimited. It has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Renaissance North East, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Business Partners and the Gillian Dickinson Trust.
Background to the Project
The project aimed to engage people with the extensive and varied collections held by the partner museums to explore the diverse heritage of individuals, groups and communities living in the North East of England. The digital stories created have been added to museum collections, augmenting these collections by providing contemporary and personal testimonies. Whilst digital storytelling is distinct from oral history (in particular it is participant led not professional led and is discursive and narrative rather than analytical), this project has built on and complements important oral history work undertaken by the North East Regional Museums Hub and other museums in the region.