Kunsthalle Bern Archive - Gradually unfolding history

Kunsthalle Bern has a rich and dense history, reaching back over 100 years.
About three years ago, Kunsthalle Bern approached us with the wish to make their archive available to the public. The question was whether hundreds of thousands of customs slips, invoices and letters would justify the huge effort – not to mention costs – required to digitise and publish the entire archive from A-Z.
Instead, we decided to tap into the continual work done by  visiting researchers, and create a complete system for Gradually Unfolding History.
We’ve developed an analogue/digital working environment that makes finding and gathering material easy, automatically and gradually catalogues this material and enables the creation of connections between documents through personal stories. (Illustration Joe Rohrer, Luzern/www.bildebene.ch)
In the archive....
...a working station with attached camera and RFID readers, and custom software, allows researchers to manage their work while giving something back to the Kunsthalle in the form of content and context.
The virtual representation of the documents and their folders are created by measuring the thickness of a pile.
These virtual folders are sorted by date. Their size reflect the amount of scanned content...
...and the lines between are the stories connecting them. (Screenshot December 2018).
Diving into one of the folders/exhibitions, every dot is a potential (small) or actual (big) document, and when circled part of a story.
The search field can be expanded for expert use, the timeline used for both navigation and orientation, and documents previewed on hover.
Any document can be viewed in detail, and the attached metadata can be used for information or converted to a search filter with one click.
Expert's stories connect documents across exhibitions. Links in the text triggers a scroll to the relevant exhibition and highlights the document.
Narrative paths are continually created throughout the archive, allowing readers a richer access to the history of the institution.