Designing Tangible Interactions to Communicate Cultural Continuity: ʔeləw̓k̓ʷ — Belongings, a Tangible Table in c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city at the Museum of Anthropology.

Reese Muntean, Simon Fraser University, Canada, Kate Hennessy, Simon Fraser University, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Canada

Published paper: Designing tangible Interactions to communicate cultural continuity: ʔeləw̓k̓ʷ — Belongings, a tangible table in c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city at the Museum of Anthropology.

In this paper, we discuss ʔeləw̓k̓ʷ — Belongings an interactive tabletop using a tangible user interface to explore intangible cultural heritage. The table was developed by an interdisciplinary team of curators, Musqueam advisors, and interaction designers for the “c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city” exhibition at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. The tabletop uses replicas of Musqueam belongings excavated from the ancestral village site of c̓əsnaʔəm, as well as contemporary objects that are a part of everyday Musqueam life, to access information about the long history of salmon fishing and the continuity of related knowledge and values at c̓əsnaʔəm.

Our focus in this paper is on the collaborative design process that guided the realization of the project and the articulation of the continuity of Musqueam cultural values in contemporary life. We explore how the project team identified priorities for interaction design and goals for sharing cultural history and knowledge with museum visitors. We conclude with reflections on the results of visitor studies that evaluated the success of the table in using tangible interactions to communicate knowledge of the continuity of Musqueam values.

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