The voices of the workhouse

A project that is going to give the people and fates of the workhouse a voice

Forsogsmuseet in Svendborg is located in an old workhouse and was used by the social welfare until 1974. When you step inside, there is still barbed wire on the walls, old toilets and isolation cells.
In the 19th and 20th century, those at the bottom of society were placed here. These were divided into two groups; those worthily in need and those unworthily in need, and placed accordingly. The inspector decided where you would be placed – and also when you got out.
The place has a heavy atmosphere – but all the stories about it are untold. That is why Forsogsmuseet hired me and Tripledesign to create an app that could bring all the stories to life. Of course, one could do so simply by letting the poor people tell their stories, but we were more ambitious than that and tried to create an experience where the users are actively drawn into the story. It is one of the most inspiring things I have worked on in years… and truly worth a visit, if you happen to drop by Svendborg.
At the exhibit, you move around the museum with an iPad which allows you to meet the different residents of the workhouse. At first it resembles a traditional museum experience in many ways, but after a while you are forced to deal with some of the dilemmas related to the treatment of the residents, and it becomes less obvious what is right or wrong to do.
The socio-political dilemmas are built around four workhouse fates, which in each their way incarnate the social issues.