As its treasures are simply too fragile to be handled by everyone, the Dutch Literary Museum (Letterkundig Museum) was looking for a way to display its archive digitally. We were asked to build a website and develop creative concepts to tell its stories online.
The Dutch Literary Museum tells the stories behind the most important books in the Netherlands. It shows visitors what was on the desk of a famous writer, an illustrator’s preliminary sketches or the drafts that led to the final masterpiece. On their own, these items are only of interest to researchers. Together, they weave a narrative about the time a book was created in that's of widespread interest.
We combined items into multi-sensory interactive stories. Visitors can scroll through them, pausing to zoom in on details or listen to audio fragments, to get the complete story about an author, illustrator, social theme, or writing process.
To guide visitors through the archive (and bring it up to date) we appointed contemporary writers to act as curators who guide visitors through the archives.
By taking the lead in design as well as strategy, we could develop a campaign that shook up the cultural industry. Our immediate goal was generating a buzz to attract the press, while laying down long-term roots by building an online community. We focused on social ads, which immediately generated lots of hits, so whatever platform you used, you'd quickly encounter one of the brand assets or someone talking about it.
By making all the brand assets distinctive and instantly recognizable, no matter the shape or form, it was hard to miss the new Literatuurmuseum identity. Finally, for younger readers we also made a school kit, including posters that teachers would love to decorate their classrooms with or postcards that students could send out.
A Happy Ending
The Literatuurmuseum won a Gold European Design Award in the category ‘Informative Website’ and a Silver in ‘Online Identity’. In just 6 months, the Literatuurmuseum website received more than 100,000 visitors while the Facebook page amassed 10,000 fans.
But perhaps the biggest indicator of the platform’s success was the fact that the physical museum changed its name to match the digital experience we created for them: switching from Letterkundig Museum to Literatuurmuseum.
Photography: Michiel Spijkers
For the Dutch Literature Museum we transformed its archive online, creating a new online community of fans and inspiring a new generation of book nerds. We are responsible for the brand’s creative direction, its online strategy and website, and we continue to devise digital exhibitions as a way to present new discoveries from the archive.