The Netherlands are defined by their relation with water. We’re known for our extensive water defences, living below sea level and ‘polders’. As the saying goes, God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands. Less well known is that water is not only our enemy, but has been our ally as well. For hundreds of years we’ve defended the country with an extensive network of flooded plains, sluices, earth walls, brick, concrete and steel called the water lines.
Just outside of Utrecht one of the fortresses of the New Dutch Waterline is now being transformed into a Waterline Museum. On Fort bij Vechten a story will be told of an enormous (80km long by 4km wide) infrastructural project, the people that build and defended it, the enemies it stopped and also how it’s never actually been used in war.
Last year I helped the museum develop a digital strategy using the Digital Engagement Framework. The strategy focused on building awareness in the area of the water line, activating audiences to become engaged through games and tours with the stories of the museum and – eventually – generating visitors to the site.
This year I will help with the implementation of this strategy for the opening of the museum early 2015. It’s the largest project I’ve been involved in since the Museum of National History over two years ago and in it I hope to bring together all the experience and knowledge of the years of consulting and doing innovative projects that came between. Also, it’s an extensive case study for the Digital Engagement Framework and the ideas we’ve presented in the book Digital engagement in culture, heritage and the arts.
Needless to say, I’m super excited to be part of this project. It’s a chance to test ideas and try new solutions. Hopefully it’ll give me bits to blog about and an opportunity to work together with many of you. I’d like to create a place in this museum and on this fortress for ideas about the (digital) future of museums that have a hard time finding a place elsewhere. If you’re sitting on top of such ideas, contact me.
Although the Waterline Museum will take quite some time this year, I will continue with the work I’ve been doing with the Digital Engagement Framework together with Jim Richardson, workshops and capacity building, and my other projects for Inspired by Coffee. This will be an exciting year!
Header photo by Dirk-Jan Kraan.