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Innovative technology at Sami museums

Published: 14 May 2020

Virtual and augmented reality, holograms, gamification, and interactive storytelling are possible ways to display Sámi culture. In a new project, researchers from Luleå University of Technology collaborates with three Sámi museums to create a museum language from the Sámi’s perspective.

The partner museums, Sámi Museum Siida in Finland, Ájtte in Sweden and Saemien Sijte in Norway, hold a central position in presenting Sámi culture. The aim of the new project is to create a new Sámi museum language, through which Sámi culture can be presented in museums and exhibitions from the perspective of the Sámi themselves.

– The project has an overarching objective to strengthen the Sámi identity through the new exhibition language, which the consortium sees as a way of increasing vitality of Sámi communities and attractiveness of their regions, says Teemu Laine, Associate Professor of Pervasive and Mobile Computing.

– This project is a great opportunity for us at the Pervasive and Mobile Computing group to strengthen our research and development in the area of interactive museum technologies.

Creative innovations

Together with the PhD students Joo Chan Kim and Henrique Rossi, and a team of designers at the University of Lapland, Teemu Laine will develop interactive technology pilots at the three partner museums. The technologies to be used may involve virtual and augmented reality, holograms, gamification, and interactive storytelling. Additionally, some of the pilots can be made remotely accessible in order to provide cross-border cultural experiences.

– Our goal is to create engaging and enjoyable experiences for diverse audiences around the richness of the Sámi culture represented by the three museums, says Teemu Laine.

The researchers’ development process is based on co-design workshops, bringing together museum curators, researchers, local inhabitants, visitors and other local stakeholders, for example Sámi Parliaments and artists. Because of Covid-19, the project though had to take a creative turn.

– All planned face-to-face workshops are put on hold for the time being. We continue the work by using different online collaboration tools. It is not easy, but I believe that we have a strong consortium that will overcome this together, Teemu Laine says.

Three pilots – three themes

The Sámi exhibition language will be developed through three exhibition pilots. The pilots will have themes: the Drum, the Sámi costume Gákti/Gapta/Gáppte, and the Loss of language. The pilots will become a permanent part of the exhibitions of Saemien Sijte, the Sámi Museum Siida and Ájtte.

– From the engineering perspective, we hope that the technology pilots will work flawlessly, will meet the diverse needs of the stakeholders, and will be available to impress visitors of the museums for several years after the project ends, says Teemu Laine.