In another post I have recalled my recent visit to the Museum of the City of Bologna, which was very interesting.
However, in this blogpost, I would like to focus especially on the section “Percorsi Emotivi” (“Emotional Routes”). This is a geo-blog project, where visitors are invited to tag a map of the city with their emotions. They can do this on-site, where many post-it are available to be pinned on a huge panel with a satellite view of the city, or online, through the blog, which can therefore be accessed both in the same room of the museum (on a touch-screen) or, of course, later on from home.
Either using post-it or adding their bookmarks to the google map, people are first of all encouraged to choose an emotion, represented by a particular smile, and then to write their memory and pin it on the map. For example, I and my friend tagged the place where we first met and where we shared our University accommodation.
The explicit aim is to create a platform where tourists and citizens can interact and discuss over a map of the city, letting a whole series of practices, emotions, traditions and uses of the city emerge.
The quantity and variety of messages left are impressive. Since the room is near the end of the museum visit, there are naturally some comments about it. A second big group is represented by tourists, who left also more general comments about the city. Then, there are the inhabitants. Among them, it is interesting to distinguish the group of citizens born and raised in Bologna, who annotate memories of “how things used to be there” and often bookmark particular location that they think are worth to be better remembered and promoted, and a second group of people, those of University students who actually represent a big part of the city centre inhabitants. This second, younger, group seems to emphasise their “love” and passion for their second city, alongside with the typical meeting points of university life. Apparently, but this is only a first interpretation of a quick reading of some tags, native citizens focus more on local histories and traditions that they want to be preserved, while students highlights the social dimension of the city. Together, knowledge, information, discoveries and relationships allows creating a very dynamic map, where multiple voices and aspects of the life within the city are collected and re-enacted.
While there are different projects that aim to geotag places and develop a bigger awareness of historical and artistic features, this is the first one I have encountered that aims to tag emotions – at least on a long term basis, and not only for some special event or happening.
Why did I like it so much? Generally, it collects such a wide range of observations and comments, which would make happy any sociologist for a long time – from there, it emerges such a great self-representation of the city, of its identities, of its relationships and self-recognition!
Secondly, it’s a great way to engage visitors: after the visit to the museum of the city, it is the visitor himself that is invited to leave its contribution to this same representation. In this sense, the geoblog is a powerful tool of inclusion, even more since it can be accessed also online – that is from non-visitors.
Finally, the focus on the emotions and not on information, allow a wider public participation to the project and it creates also a stronger link between the museum and the visitor experience.
In conclusion, this project seems very interesting and I am looking forward to see how it will be developed and which kind of output there will be.