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Art goes Virtual: Museum in the Village

SAMP initially approached us with a clear vision: to portray every experience from the Museum in the Village project within a virtual world that could be accessible to people of all generations through a digital platform. Immersed in SAMP’s world of artistic expression, we turned to geek mode and kicked off a conceptual journey. Our goal? To embrace experimentation while meticulously attending to details. From captivating visuals to compelling narratives, every element is carefully curated to evoke a sense of immersion and engagement.

The Museum in the Village is a virtual museum where empowered communities become living exhibitions, and each social interaction is a work of art.

The Museum in the Village (Museu na Aldeia) is an initiative fostered by SAMP – Sociedade Artística Musical de Pousos, a cultural institution based in Portugal. It is dedicated to promoting creativity and empowering communities through various social initiatives.

The Museum in the Village project is a testament to this commitment by bringing together 13 museums and 13 villages from 26 municipalities to present a distinctive cultural program explicitly tailored for an elderly audience, providing them access to enriching cultural experiences they may not otherwise encounter regularly. Since our initial interaction with the client, we understood their purpose was to preserve the collective memory and the significance of artistic intervention in isolated areas of the country to reach the older population and encourage them to create.

Time capsule turned Virtual Museum: Museum in the Village

To encapsulate the rich tapestry of experiences from the Museum in the Village project, we developed a virtual museum that breaks traditional boundaries. Our vision was to create more than just a website; we aimed to develop a digital experience that resonates with the essence of the project itself. At the core of our approach lies our fondness for storytelling, as this project offered such authentic richness to explore. From captivating visuals to compelling narratives, every element is carefully curated to evoke a sense of immersion and engagement.

The impact of our work on the project’s overall communication was significant. Not only did we create a digital solution that is agile and functional, presenting the artistic pieces resulting from the Museum in the Village project, but it also resulted in a visually appealing channel that successfully disseminates the history and journey of each work of art. Following the virtual museum launch, an official presentation was held in Leiria with all the entities involved. The feedback was excellent, and we were delighted to learn that everyone received the virtual experience with curiosity and surprise.

How we helped:

  • Storytelling: Core Creative Concept and brand digital narrative
  • Website Development: User experience analysis; website layout design and development
  • Content curation: Written and audio testimonials, artworks, photographs, and other artefacts

SAMP (Sociedade Artística Musical dos Pousos) is a Portuguese cultural institution committed to enriching lives through music, arts, and community engagement. Built upon visionary ideals, SAMP firmly believes in the transformative power of art and culture to uplift individuals and communities alike. With a legacy spanning over 150 years, SAMP’s mission is rooted in the belief that everyone, regardless of background or circumstance, should have access to the transformative potential of the arts.

Since its foundation, SAMP has continued to innovate and expand its reach, offering a wide range of music education, therapy, and cultural exchange programs, striving to make a meaningful and lasting impact on society through the world of art. The Museum in the Village initiative appeared within this ecosystem, seeking to bridge the gap between rural villages, traditional heritage and cultural institutions, fostering meaningful connections and preserving collective memories.

A sterling vision: Bringing tradition to life

SAMP initially approached us with a clear vision: to portray every experience from the Museum in the Village project within a virtual world that could be accessible to people of all generations through a digital platform. As an experienced institution in the arts, SAMP’s vision resonated deeply with our commitment to the creative process: stay curious, push boundaries and find meaning.

The team turned to geek mode and got ready to embrace experimentation and uncover a compelling narrative while meticulously attending to details. Immersed in SAMP’s world of artistic expression, we kicked off a conceptual journey to devise a platform that could resonate with both the elderly population and younger generations. Essentially, the project’s mission soared beyond mere objectives; it aspired to democratize access to an experience of artistic fruition, foster dialogue bridges, combat social isolation, revitalize the uniqueness of traditions, and promote the sharing of cultural heritage. Precisely the mission that makes our hearts at Kobu beat with enthusiasm!

The inception of SAMP’s Museum in the Village project stemmed from a profound desire to enrich the lives of elderly individuals residing in low-density population areas, thereby elevating the overall quality of life for everyone involved. So, no trigger, single tipping point, or specific catalyst spurred this project; instead, the need to preserve the invaluable experiences garnered across many years by museums and villages spurred action.

Despite advancements in life expectancy and the establishment of support networks for older people in recent years, a significant gap persists in providing care and activities that foster social, psychological, emotional, and cultural well-being, particularly for seniors living in isolation yet maintaining their independence.

Within this socio-cultural landscape, the Museum in the Village project emerged with a clear and noble objective: to address and alleviate the pervasive issues of loneliness and isolation, which the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have further compounded. This demographic, already deserving of heightened attention, has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic-induced restrictions, underscoring the urgency of initiatives such as the Museum in the Village project in fostering connectivity and community resilience. SAMP ended up entrusting us with translating the project’s mission, core values, and tangible outcomes into a digital narrative and virtual museum while preserving its development journey’s authenticity and emotional depth.

Virtual museum and the engaging power of storytelling

Developing a website for SAMP’s Museum in the Village project was a unique and inspiring experience for our creative agency, as our commitment to integrating art and experimentation into our process aligned seamlessly with the project’s mission to highlight the significance of cultural heritage.

Although our initial discussions with the client began during the COVID-19 pandemic, the actual work on the website commenced in March 2023. Despite that time gap, our early meetings with the client provided valuable insights into the project’s context and goals, as well as its development and desired outcome, offering our team a comprehensive understanding of the Museum in the Village in all its dimensions since the beginning.

When we first gathered to brainstorm for the core creative concept, we aimed to develop an idea that would encapsulate the essence of the project and translate seamlessly into a visual proposal for the website. Central to our concept was the importance of memories and their role in shaping a perception of value that we ourselves had envisioned for the Museum in the Village. We wanted it to be observed as a digital time capsule turned virtual museum, preserving and sharing sounds, ideas, photos, experiences, objects, and emotions for future generations, so the final core creative concept was “Museum in the Village: A Memory for the Future”, which the client enthusiastically embraced.

This concept was the base pillar of the website navigation proposal and its visual concept, where we aimed to highlight each village, effectively fulfilling the project’s primary goal. In this sense, the website mirrors the synergies between museums and villages through innovative design, edgy visuals and intuitive functionality, capturing the spirit of cultural exchange and artistic expression. 

A time capsule turned Virtual Museum

The website is super user-friendly, serving as a digital hub for the “Museum in the Village” initiative. As a virtual museum, it showcases stories, artwork, and experiences of the elderly population participating in artistic-related activities within the rural villages; it also presents the collaborations between rural communities and museums to promote cultural exchange while raising awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage and engaging with elderly populations.

As we dove into the process of wireframing and layout designing, we opted for lateral scroll navigation to enhance the captivating experience and emphasise the platform’s interactive nature while ensuring easy access to institutional information. This design allowed users to seamlessly navigate through each village and immerse themselves in the memories crafted within the project, reinforcing the virtual museum experience. One of the other singularities of this website was making sure that each time the user accessed a new page, the colour palette of each layout would change to make it a bit more entertaining and appealing to the eyes – can you tell how proud we are of this work?!

Although this process required considerable time and effort, we successfully organised the essential information to streamline the development process and ensure the efficient implementation of the website while also collaborating with the client on defining the project’s business goals – yep, we can’t help it! The project involved a little bit of brand consultancy, too 🙂

Empowering communities to keep traditions alive

One of the most impactful phases of the project was the thorough analysis of the collected content. Spanning from written and audio testimonials to the artworks crafted by each village and museum and various “souvenirs” like photographs, audio recordings, and written texts, this phase proved to be a treasure trove of invaluable material. 

Our team meticulously examined and categorised the diverse content gathered throughout the Museum in the Village project during this stage. Whether a heartfelt testimonial or a captivating artwork inspired by local traditions, each piece contributed significantly to shaping the project’s narrative. By carefully scrutinising and organising this wealth of content, we refined the essence of the project into a cohesive and compelling story. 

Every testimonial, artwork, and memento was a building block in creating this virtual museum, enriching the user experience and bringing the spirit of the Museum in the Village to life. Ultimately, this thorough analysis of collected content was pivotal in guiding the project’s direction and ensuring that the digital experience authentically captured the essence of the Museum in the Village initiative. 

Through this process of exploration and discovery, we unlocked the project’s true potential, creating a lasting tribute to the significance of cultural heritage and community.

A recollection of memories: the legacy of elder generations

A core element of this digital experience was the creation of a map with each of the villages and museums the user could access. Once the user chose a village represented by a house icon, that icon would open, replicating the opening of a box/archive where we could immerse by listening to the participant’s testimonials. At the same time, while navigating the map, the user can also see the documentary made within the project. Each time the user navigates the website, the virtual museum experience is accompanied by sounds collected from each village. 

Despite having to follow SAMP’s brand guidelines and using them as the foundation for the visuals developed, we gave their visual universe some new tools that could upscale the digital experience discovery feeling. We incorporated a collage technique to underscore the significance of manual and experimental experiences, curating images and visual elements from each village/museum partnership to create a cohesive and diverse archive of memories.

This collage technique played a pivotal role in the website’s transformation into a virtual museum, offering an interactive journey through the memories and experiences of the Museum in the Village project.

By blending various images, photos, and visual elements collected from each village/museum partnership, the collage technique infused the website with depth and texture, capturing the essence of the project’s cultural richness.

Each collage served as a mosaic of memories, inviting users to explore and interact with the diverse narratives woven throughout the project. As users navigate the virtual museum, they encounter a dynamic tapestry of sights and sounds, each visual piece evoking a unique story or moment from the Museum in the Village experience.

Moreover, the interactive nature of the collage technique allowed users to engage with the content more personalised and immersively. Through interactive features such as hover effects, clickable elements, and multimedia integration, users could delve deeper into the memories and uncover hidden layers of meaning within each collage. In essence, the collage technique served as a visual showcase of the project’s cultural heritage and as a catalyst for meaningful interaction and exploration. By blending artistry with interactivity, the website transformed into a virtual museum with a vibrant tapestry of memories, inviting users to embark on a captivating journey through the heart and soul of the Museum in the Village project.

Virtual museum and the democratization of access to culture

Once the initial steps were taken, our attention shifted towards bringing the website design to life. However, this phase came with its share of challenges. Ensuring that the website effectively conveyed the depth and intricacy of the Museum in the Village project while remaining user-friendly and accessible to all demographics, especially the elderly, was no easy feat.

Furthermore, seamlessly integrating the collage technique and lateral scroll navigation into the digital experience demanded meticulous attention to detail and technical expertise to ensure seamless functionality across all devices. Despite these hurdles, our team remained dedicated to delivering a final product that truly encapsulated the essence of the project and offered users an immersive and engaging virtual museum.

As the design took form and the website emerged, it was an incredibly rewarding experience for us all. Witnessing each story come to life in digital form was profoundly moving. Seeing months of hard work and creativity culminate in a platform that showcased the cultural richness and community spirit of the Museum in the Village project was a moment of great pride. Moreover, knowing that this virtual museum would serve as a lasting testament to the project’s legacy, preserving and sharing these stories (and creating new ones) for generations to come added an extra layer of significance to our work.

A truly impactful outcome

The impact of the Museum in the Village project on our client, SAMP, has been significant and multifaceted. Through the development of the website and virtual museum, we’ve effectively addressed several key objectives, ultimately enhancing the overall mission and goals of the project. Ultimately, it was a very rewarding creative challenge!

Firstly, our work has fostered community engagement and social connection among the target audience. Through the immersive digital experience the website provides, users can explore memories, stories, and artwork from their communities, fostering a sense of pride and belonging – this, we hope, will help to preserve their experiences.

We sought to weave together all the diverse narratives and most cherished moments, inviting visitors to engage on a digital journey of discovery and connection to old traditions. Through interactive features and multimedia elements, users can delve deep into the heart of the Museum in the Village, exploring the intricacies of each collaboration between Museums and Villages and its transformative impact on communities. Moreover, this virtual museum is a beacon of information and insight, providing people with a comprehensive understanding of the project’s mission, initiatives, and outcomes.

A VIRTUAL MUSEUM to preserve the cultural heritage of local c0mmunities

We met the client’s expectations of a virtual museum that preserved the project in all dimensions and ensured its scaling possibility to include future initiatives for the long term. The client needed a distinctive and creative website experience while maintaining an institutional look and feel and ensuring that various target groups could access this website: the elderly population and stakeholders involved in the project, the artistic, institutional, and social entities that supported the project, and the rest of the population, which, although not actively involved in the project, represent a target for its promotion and communication. We incorporated accessibility features and condensed the immersive experience into a single space.

Creating this digital experience where the Museum in the Village and its future projects can be communicated was of so much value. This website is crucial for SAMP to preserve and continue sharing the importance of cultural heritage with every generation. By curating a diverse archive of memories and artworks from each village-museum partnership, we’ve created a virtual museum that ensures these stories don’t get lost in time. It honours the past and creates opportunities for future generations to learn about and connect with their cultural heritage.

The journey with the Museum in the Village project has been profoundly moving for the team. It’s been more than just a project; it’s been a journey of discovery, empathy, and connection to the richness of cultural legacy. We’ve had the privilege of delving into the memories and stories woven by communities across Portugal, experiencing firsthand the transformative power of cultural heritage to unite and uplift. Each interaction and artwork has left an indelible imprint on our hearts, reminding us of older generations’ invaluable wisdom and teachings.

Collaborating with SAMP has been inspiring as we witnessed their dedication to fostering creativity and empowering communities through social initiatives. The Museum in the Village project epitomises this dedication, creating a virtual museum where communities become living exhibitions and where every social interaction becomes a masterpiece in its own right.

We are genuinely proud of the final outcome of this project and its transformative impact. We’re grateful to have collaborated on a project that improves access to cultural resources and fosters community engagement. Through our work, we’ve witnessed the profound impact that art and culture can have in local communities, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to help preserve so many precious memories for generations to come.


Executive Creative Direction: Sandra Lopes
Creative Direction: Marta Gouveia
Brand Design: Beatriz Varela, Gonçalo Cevadinha, Sónia Duarte
Digital Product Management: Karolina Guilherme
Motion Design: Pedro Santos
UX/UI Design: Daniel Gomes
Web Development: Cátia Dionísio
Content Management: André Oliveira, Catarina António

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