Livsreise Heritage Center Makes History Interactive


Livsreise is an interactive heritage center in Stoughton, Wisconsin that tells the story of Norwegian Emigration to the U.S. in the 19th century. This captivating story is shared in dynamic fashion through a host of interactive exhibits including the largest array (33) of Planar Mosaic Salvadors in the world.

Nominating Company: ZEBRADOG, Madison, Wisconsin
Venue: Livsreise, Stoughton, Wisconsin
Project: Interactive heritage center
Category: Immersive Environments

ZEBRADOG was chosen by the Bryant Foundation to imagine, program and implement a Norwegian Heritage Center in Stoughton, Wisconsin. The vision was to share the story of Norwegian emigration to the U.S. between 1825 and 1910 while reflecting the unique culture of the Norwegian people. The name, LIVSREISE, was developed to reflect the Life’s Journey shared within the space. ZEBRADOG determined how best to share this story and experience by using the latest interactive technologies and integrating them in such a way that they disappeared seamlessly into the historic look of the center. Using a touch interface comprised of metallic artifacts, visitors build unique emigration stories to be experienced on the world’s largest array of Planar Mosaic tiles (33). Other stations include living storybooks that share real emigration stories and cultural kiosks that teach Norwegian language, demonstrate traditional dances and more.

Designing a space for all ages that was both engaging and informative presented some challenges. The story had never been told so completely. Our team conducted vast amounts of research and challenged ourselves to provide the most dynamic and thorough experience for all visitors. Our second challenge was how to tell an old story with new media. Architecturally integrating large amounts of interactive media into a space intended to be reflective of a traditional Norwegian style proved to be an intriguing problem. We needed to keep visitors engaged in a vast amount of historical information. In creating the “Map Your Journey” experience, we were challenged to create a seamless integrated journey from today’s Norway to historical Norway using exact locations of historical photos and Google Earth technology. Lastly, the media exhibits are as turn-key as possible to support a heritage center that has no dedicated IT staff.

ZEBRADOG developed a system to gather the most dynamic media and ensure the most captivating stories were shared in beautiful and accessible ways throughout the center. Interactive storybook and cultural displays, filled with hundreds of historical, hand-colored images, were integrated with traditional millwork designs to blend seamlessly into the unique look of the facility. In building the one-of-a-kind “Map Your Journey” experience, we developed a capacitive metallic touch interface to connect deeply with the architecture and culture of the space. We also developed our own system using Google Maps KML technology to fly visitors from space through each of the stops on the journey, using our research to bring them to the exact location of the original photos. Lastly, to assist with the turn-key factor, we implemented a comprehensive CMS to allow staff to control hardware, content and software for the entire facility from an easy-to-use interface.

Livsreise has put Stoughton, Wisconsin on the map for thousands from across the Midwest who are curious to explore their roots or learn more about the story of Norwegian emigration. Busloads of Norwegian tourists have made the journey to Stoughton to see and experience Livsreise.

“This is a top-notch Norwegian Heritage museum with beautiful exhibits, ornate wood carvings and touchscreens to access information at many sites,” wrote DesertRobin via TripAdvisor.

“The results are clearly stunning,” wrote Brian Clark of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“It’s been a great success story so far. It’s doing just what we wanted it to do — bringing people to downtown Stoughton and making it a destination,” said June Bunting, Executive Director of the Bryant Foundation.

“At Livsreise, guests are sure to develop a deeper respect for emigrants and a better understanding of the Norwegian-American culture in Stoughton and around the country.” – Norwegian American Weekly

ZEBRADOG won the DSE 2016 Bronze Apex Award in the Immersive Environments category.

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