In Tuscany, there is a dynamic little museum where visitors can dive into the interactive and emotional stories as they unfold. It is an experience of total sound and visual immersion because the diaries whisper or shout; they generate the buzz of life and the past, a melting pot of memories, confessions, secrets that are hidden among the shelving and in the drawers, just waiting to be revealed.
Studio dotdotdot is the creative driver behind the exhibition pathway of the Piccolo Museo del Diario, a permanent interactive and magnetic exhibition designed to highlight and enhance the many thousands (more than 6500 to be precise) of stories written, collected and stored.
The documents have been preserved since 1984 in The National Diary Archives, Italy, (L’Archivio Diaristico Nazionale) in Pieve Santo Stefano, Tuscany. These public archives contain the writings of normal people who reflect on their everyday lives and their stories through diaries, letters and autobiographical memories. This museum wishes to highlight the wealth of information contained in the archives; the design plans are suggestive and poetic, an arrangement envisaged by the journalist and writer, Saverio Tutino. The writings describe the anecdotes of unidentified people who left a mark in their lives.
Inspired by the book ‘Il paese dei diari’ [The town of the diaries] written by Mario Perrotta, for the Piccolo Museo del Diario, dotdotdot “wished to explain the meaning of the public archives, that groups the diaries, the letters and the autobiographical memories of the normal people who reflect on the life and times on the everyday lives and on the historical events in Italy”.
On entering the museum, the first two halls are dedicated to the archives, a tribute to its soul, a melting pot of memories, confessions and secrets hidden in the drawers, waiting to be revealed: an extensive archive containing a number of different pages, traces and testimonials of their personal lives.
Mario Perrotta explained that the diaries are alive; they look for a contact point, they search for each other, they whisper secretly and endlessly at night, moving around on zip-wires and cables in the perfect diary-city.
Dynamic videoprojections reproduce pages of the diaries on the walls and surfaces of this large archive; the images present sheets containing the life stories of common people that flutter from the drawers and flap light and free in another dimension, to drop into other drawers; this creates dialogue, an exchange, and strange short-cuts between different stories and ideologies that have been forced together. The visitor enjoys an experience of total immersion in sound and vision because the diaries whisper, they speak, generating the rustling energy of lives and memories of people past and present.
Fired by curiosity, the visitor is invited to open the drawers and peak at the content. The open drawer reveals a diary that is physical or digital, visible and animated with sound: the diary, that was hidden in the drawer, is now ready to release, demonstrate and tell the true and emotional stories immortalized in the unidentifiable diary pages. Positioned against two walls, master woodworkers have reproduced a large timber unit complete with shelves, drawers and a variety of storage containers. This storage unit also houses all of the technology necessary to operate the installations: a monitor was installed inside each of the 15 drawers and the 5 cupboards that house the digital components to present the diaries, a sound system for the narrative, a series of sensors to activate the installation, a microcontroller connected to a computer for the general management of the system. An additional 5 sliding drawers contain the original diaries. To consent installation of the technological equipment, this large unit was designed as a stand-alone structure, detached from the walls; it is easy to inspect thanks to a system of rails that allows the lower portion to slide out. The rear sections of the unit are therefore transformed into the technical, direction and management zones, as well as being the perfect platform for installing the components and cabling and for any future of the maintenance or modifications.
The museum has been created in the compact 16th-century halls of a building protected by the Ministry for Heritage in Arezzo, Tuscany. The rooms are small and subject to the restrictions governing the protection of the structures, preventing any invasive interventions for the plant systems and to the structures.
The interactive installation L’Archivio [The Archives] is the first section of the multimedial exhibition route commissioned by the Foundation for the Italy Archives of the Diary and by the City Council of Pieve Santo Stefano, to poetically tell the stories behind the diaries, letters and autobiographical memories of unidentified people who left a mark on others lives. The museum pathway will develop over the years in this physically restricted space designed to contain a wealth of personal anecdotes.