Hacking cultural education

How can museums use up-to-date storytelling to make exhibits more accessible, more engaging and to attract a wider audience?
The challenge


What happens if we apply contemporary storytelling and rapid prototyping to historical cultural sources like 17th-century Jesuit paintings?

To name but a few of the benefits:

  • Kids would stop in a museum because they want to know more about the exhibits.
  • Museums would extend their cultural offerings into digital channels as well.
  • History would come alive in a  more engaging way.

How do we get there? What tools and skills are needed to reveal the hidden stories behind sources like copper engravings and Latin texts?

Setting the stage


A team of IXDS designers used their 5th day and weekends to make a case for contemporary storytelling at the annual culture hackathon Coding Da Vinci Süd. At the final in Nuremberg in May 2019, the team claimed both the award for 'Funniest Hack' and 'Everybody’s Darling' with their project "162 Ways to Die".

What they did


The IXDS stemmed team received 162 pictures of 17th century copper engravings of Städtische Museen - Landsberg am Lech depicting the deaths of Jesuit monks. Applying storytelling skills as well as physical and digital prototyping, they created digital videos that tell the tragic stories of Jesuit monks as discovered in the paintings. The videos were started by putting a wooden figure on a stage, uniting the digital and physical world of cultural education.

User perspective


Putting the experience and needs of the museum visitor first, our team made the content available in an intriguing and easy to understand way. The interactive station and its morbid touch convinced jury, museum and fellow participants.

"It was important for us to give a delicate topic like death the respect it deserves. But at the same time, we wanted to create something that’s still kind of light-hearted and fun to watch. With all the positive feedback we got, it’s safe to say that we achieved both goals." (Georg Reil, IXDS Interaction Designer)

Coding Da Vinci


Supported by Kultur Digital der Kulturstiftung des Bundes, 31 cultural institutions in Bayern and Baden Württemberg like museums, archives and libraries donated open data. 18 teams participated in the Culture Hackathon to improve service accessibility and expand the scope of publicly available cultural data.

In the press

Ein Jesuit auf Reisen: Museum mal verspielt

Augsburger Allgemeine

Geschichte vermitteln: preisgekrönte Medien-Installation fürs Stadtmuseum

What we learnt


  • Teaching history is easy – if you design the right form of presentation.
  • A monk's life is not just about praying and brewing beer.
  • Taking the user-perspective should include all dimensions of storytelling, content, materials, functionality, etc.
  • Morbid titles work far beyond Netflix and will spark interest for cultural topics as well.