Building Australia’s first human rights museum without walls
When thinking about museums, often we immediately think of large white-walled buildings with ornate heavy doors, empty gatekeeper foyers and items of value kept in impenetrable glass cases. The Museum of Freedom and Tolerance Western Australia (MFTWA) exists to challenge this perception of museums as institutions, proposing instead a new way ‘to learn, share and preserve untold stories of racial and religious experiences in our society and use them as a catalyst for change.’
Issues in focus
Diversity and Inclusion, Human Rights, Storytelling, Reshaping Perceptions
MFTWA is a museum without walls. It’s Australia’s first human rights museum, aiming to shine a light on the invisible, marginalised stories of our nation and empower every Australian to be accepting and embracing of our multicultural society. The museum approached the DrawHistory team to help with their major goals – helping them generate community interest and directly asking the community what the museum’s next steps should be. As the museum received an event-specific grant, we were tasked with developing a solution to this challenge within four weeks.
To help define exactly what such a museum could look like, DrawHistory suggested that a museum built for the community should have them at its core. The DrawHistory team co-created a 2-day design challenge that sprawled across a weekend, reminiscent of a tech hackathon, that invited the Perth community to provide insight into how to curate and present untold stories. In the four weeks, we came up with ways to activate the venue, what activities participants would undertake, and the kinds of collateral we needed to design to make the experience meaningful.
A solid service design base
The event was an intriguing challenge for the DrawHistory team since it aligned so clearly with our long-term mission to reduce social inequality.
Through a series of collaborative workshops with the Museum’s CEO, Shaheen Hughes, we characterised the purpose and goal of hosting a design challenge. The final ‘design challenge statement’ itself informed the voice and tone of the event’s branding. This included a range of collateral that enhanced the participant experience, including a Toolkit and Event Guide, accompanied by an exclusive Spotify soundtrack for the event (yes, we curated one!), creating an atmosphere of optimism, freedom of experimentation and practicality in tackling the challenge across the two days.
The 2-day design challenge
During the challenge, participants from diverse backgrounds, such as board members, teachers and entrepreneurs, delved deeply and provided answers to the question: “What can we develop and implement to harness the power of untold stories of racial and religious discrimination in our society and use them as a catalyst for change?” Participants were able to ideate solutions to this challenge in any way, with the caveat that they needed to consider constraints around sustainability and budget.
The pitch evening
The challenge culminated in a pitch evening, gathering over 100 guests, some festival-goers from the Social Impact Festival, and others who heard about the evening through social media. In addition to sourcing the event’s catering, AV equipment and guest speakers, we also trained the teams on how to pitch effectively and compile pitch decks for their presentations.
Audience members heard fully-developed ideas from five teams and were then asked to vote with the tokens they received. Solutions proposed ranged from the use of augmented reality technology to tell stories, playing cards that encouraged inclusive conversations, to community-based street art. The winning team would go on to receive social impact courses from +Acumen and a co-working membership to work on their idea.
I'm so grateful and inspired to have worked with such an amazing team! I have worked with many firms like yours and haven't experienced the same level of commitment; you made our project seem like so much more than another job for you; you were committed to the same ends, helped keep things on track and shared the journey with us in every way.
The design challenge successfully created a community of ambassadors for the museum, bringing together people who care about the organisation’s mission and are invested in making Australia’s human rights museum a reality.
In fact, the event reached 6,500 people in two days with the help of targeted messaging, consistent branding, participants taking ownership of their ideas, and sharing the word and inviting their networks to become involved.
We leveraged Eventbrite for registrations, Facebook Events to increase visibility, and a strategy for social leading up to the event to ‘drip feed’ content. The entire pitch evening was also aired on Facebook Live.
Through the Breaking Barriers event, the museum has gone from being an idea to an achievable goal that people are talking about. The organic swell of community growth and support for the museum over a single weekend proved to the MFTWA board that their concept was strong and would continue to be supported by the community in the future.