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Platform Thingsthattalk brings together historical objects

Using the motto 'Exploring humanities through the life of objects' the Thingsthattalk platform gives a voice to historical objects that are usually kept behind closed doors. Objects from various Leiden collections are going to be made public and placed within a historical and user context.

The Thingsthattalk platform originated from an innovative educational project in which students and teachers work closely together at the intersection of education and research. The goal is to unlock more objects in the run-up to the European City of Science 2022 and to showcase how objects, humans and knowledge are connected. 

Our belongings determine the life we live

Trends such as minimalism, collecting antiques, and an interest in design indicate that humans value the things that they surround themselves with. This is true both for now and for past times. The things that we use and collect make us who we are and determine the life we live. The Thingsthattalk platform showcases historical objects and tells their story and that of their users. Koen van der Lijn, student of Asian Studies, for example, tells the story of a 19th century cut off Chinese tail. Charlotte van der Voort, student of Classics, puts a spotlight on clay tablets shaped liked palm leaves with on them one of the earliest forms of writing. Researcher Fresco Sam-Sin uses objects from his grandmother's house to review the history of Suriname, the Netherlands and its interwovenness with slavery. Before the summer holidays, other students signed up to provide the public with new stories. 

Unique co-creation by students and teachers

Starting point of Thingsthattalk.net was the ambition of the Humanities Faculty to bring education and research closer together. By allowing students to actively participate in this project, they acquire (digital) research skills and learn to collaborate with social partners. The Humanities Faculty is proud of this unique co-creation in which education and the academics go hand in hand, creating new knowledge. Ten Humanities' study programmes want to incorporate the new platform in their curriculum in the new academic year and will work with students to enrich and utilise the platform. This makes Things That Talk an important component of Digital Humanities. 

Broad collaboration

Led by Fresco Sam-Sin, the plaftorm was created in close collaboration between teacher-researchers from the Humanities Faculty, Leiden University Libraries, National Museum of Antiquities and National Museum of World Cultures. 

Agencies Fabrique and Q42 helped shape the platform strategically and technically. The technical basis of the platform is Micrio, developed by Q42. Using the storytelling tool, data can easily be linked to images, using high-resolution images. Teachers and students can add, meta-date and link images themselves using image-markers, tours and audio (voice-over, music). This creates a user-friendly and multimedia experience that is accessible to and interesting for a larger audience. 

A place for stories and connections

The platform has been developed for educational and research purposes and has the ambition, with the help of museum and knowledge partners, to become a place for stories and connections. Not only for research or museum collections, but also for special private objects. In the run-up to European City of Science 2022, more and more objects are gradually being unlocked, to which we also want to add 3D and 360 images. 

Want to know more?

You're welcome to take a look at the platform. Do you have any questions, are you interested in this platform, or do you want to participate in this project? Contact Fresco Sam-Sin, project leader, via f.sam.sin@hum.leidenuniv.nl

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