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Grandma's Story: a tale of hidden histories

Herbert Media are exploring the hidden histories of migrating grandparents across Europe through a partnership with nine European cultural partners.  Our expertise has been called upon to up-skill crews of young people and youth workers to record the older generation’s stories and archive them online through a new website.  

National Museum of Estonia exterior
National Museum of Estonia

The team have now added Estonia to our European tour which to date has included Sweden, Croatia, Spain and Portugal.  Estonia declared internet access a human right, so it’s an ideal place for a multimedia team with 4G coverage across the whole country (even in the woods) and has earnt its nickname “e-Estonia”.  Our trip took us to Tartu, the second city and home of the newly built National Estonian Museum where the project kick-off meetings began.  Situated on a former Soviet airfield, out of town and with paid entry, this 75 million Euro phenomenon has generated controversy.  But, as curator Agnes Aljas is keen to point out, controversy is welcomed and visitor figures are impressive.  

The museum is vast, and charts both the Soviet period and Swedish rule in Estonia, celebrating a history of great craft alongside exhibits charting protest against communism and the make-do and mend culture.  We see a lawnmower, impossible to buy at the time, ingeniously made out of a pushchair, a washing machine motor and a bucket.  Most impressive was the ability to change the language of each exhibit, including the subtitles of video content, using a card set up for you on entry to the museum.  If this museum alone isn’t enough to whet your appetite, the rise in the Estonian craft beer market might!  Our hosts ensured we tasted the finest Tartu has to offer, a very eclectic mix with influences from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.  The language itself also sounds more Scandinavian and there’s an abundance of wooden houses sitting alongside high rise modern architecture.  It’s a country of contrasts.

woman holding a small model house
Sharing our objects and the stories around them

Our partners introduced themselves by bringing an object of meaning to them and telling a personal story about it.  We will all be using this exercise to begin our oral history recordings so it is insightful to have experienced it first-hand.  After a thorough wade through European paperwork and red tape we will be designing the logo for the project, developing a methodology for youth workers to train young people in multimedia skills and contributing interviews to the website.  

group of people sitting on stairs
The complete project team

 

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