Ivana's House of Fairy Tales is a unique in the world multimedia and interactive visitor centre that celebrates fairy tales and creation in the realm of fairy tales. The actual idea to create a visitor centre was born in 2006 when, at the request of the project holder, the City of Ogulin Tourist Board, and with Director Ankica Puškarić at the helm, the initial project concept and study for the cultural tourism research and development project “Ogulin – Homeland of Fairy Tales” was drafted by Dragana Lucija Ratković Aydemir of the company Muze d.o.o. Shortly thereafter, together with Dragana, Vanja Cuculić and our own Vladimir, we commenced with the development of the exhibition concept for the future visitor centre, and later with the detailed design along with Ivana Fabrio and Vedran Kasap. From the very beginning we wanted to create a modern centre, interwoven with technology and in touch with the spirit of the times we live in. A multitude of collaborators, authors and various contractors (over 100 people) were involved throughout the phases of the project and from the initial concept to its realization almost seven years have passed. We are delighted that the ideas have survived the test of time until finally emerging fully realized.
Although the available space is small, only 200 square meters, it hosts very rich content. During the conceptual development this posed one of the biggest challenges - how to take the utmost advantage of the small space made available to us. As we were dealing with intangible heritage, how the multimedia interactions were conceived and designed would in a way carry the actual exhibition.
The project was primarily intended for children of different ages, even though all are welcome to awaken their inner child. However, for this reason it was necessary to define the positions and heights at which interactive screens would be installed to make the content accessible to all ages.
Systematic consideration of user experience, which in this case extended beyond the screen interactions themselves into the physical space, provided the users with the best possible experience.
For the entire exhibition we created a dozen of different, complex multimedia applications and developed several web projects. Interactions and simple learning games run through all screens featuring various fairy-tale characters. Our small but very creative digital team: Vladimir Končar (project lead, art & creative direction, design), Gorjan Agačević (development), Ozren Crnogorac (project management), Srđana Modrinić aka. Booboo Tannenbaum (illustrator), Tomislav Lončarić aka. Lonac (illustrator), Ivo Matić (illustrator), Tena Letica Tkalčević (illustrator), Ana Kovačić (designer & illustrator), Alen Stojanac (designer), Tamara Kocet (designer), Karlo Eldić (developer), Zlatko Mašek (developer), Borislav Petrović (developer), Luka Jandrašić (developer), Bruno Blažinč (developer), Dino Trojak (developer), Ante Stipaničev (developer), Davor Bagarić (developer), Alen Vuković (animation), Goran Stojnić (animation), Saša Budimir (3D animation), Josip Vranjković (3D modeler), Iva Mrkić (editing), Jasmina Kallay (screenplay), Vjeran Šalomon (sound design, composer), Ivan Kapec (composer), Boris Vagner (composer).
Upon entering the exhibition you step into the Magic Forest where you are welcomed by two interactive trees who narrate stories from Ivana’s books and episodes from her life.
The forest conceals an interactive installation, the Magic Mirror, which reveals “a wondrous inner image” of all who look into it, available as a keepsake at the entrance. The host of the Magic Mirror is Ivana’s Rampogusto, the king of all forest goblins, who emerged as a visitor favourite.
More details on how we made the Magic Mirror are available here.
Leaving the forest the visitors enter the Enchanted Castle, where five interactive touchscreen displays disguised as paintings on the walls await them. The hallways of the castle are a place to explore the world of fairy tales - what fairy tales are; who writes, records and narrates them, and what happens in fairy tales. All screens also include simple games to test knowledge.
Interfaces have been made simple so as to be accessible to the youngest visitors and the content may be accessed in a linear manner, although topics can be skipped.
At any given moment the applications show which part of the content the visitor is accessing and how long it will take them to read the opened topic.
When the screens are not in use, the applications enter automode and instead of the content display portraits of famous writers of fairy tales. All portraits are subtly animated - from beetles skittering across their faces to small gestures like winking.
In the corner of the castle there is a fireplace where fairy tales can be heard in the Fairy-Tale Jukebox. The fireplace is designed as a place to listen to fairy tales and radio plays.
In addition to listening, at the fireplace it is possible to read the texts and look at the illustrations related to sound recordings. When not in use, the fireplace displays animated fire with ambient sounds of crackling and chatter of the Brownies hiding in the fire.
The fireplace relies on a database and tailor-made administration that serves for updating and adding new content.
There is a mysterious chamber in the castle, a sort of a black box, where visitors may watch educational animated shorts and play an interactive game. The space was designed as multifunctional so that the walls can close and the central castle area may be opened for the purpose of organizing small shows or larger projections.
For the Chamber of Mystery we created an interactive game Lavender and Primrose which features the very characters from Ivana’s fairy tales. The game was designed to be played in groups, and the main characters are controlled by movement. In order to collect points, visitors need to run in place together, jump or wave their arms and reaching the next level depends on answering educational questions and saying the magic words. In order to reach their goal the visitors need to cooperate and use the knowledge they gained throughout the exhibition.
To accompany the game we also produced three animated shorts: the Magic Hill for the youngest audience, Ivana’s Adventure in Ogulin, which illustrates the fairy-tale nature of the Ogulin region, and the longest, Once upon a time there lived Ivana..., which narrates Ivana’s biography in the company of Curlylocks and Wee Tintilinkie.
The gallery holds the Creative Room intended for educational and entertaining workshops. Along with work tables the room contains a 42" custom-made multi-touch screen for which we developed two complex applications for the purpose of organized visits and workshops.
The first application is a sketchbook, which through various tools enables the visitors to express themselves creatively. The tools in the sketchbook vary: a pencil, felt pen, brush, special brush, textures and special elements. Some of the tools, in addition to being customizable in terms of colour and size, include sub-options which make it possible to select different predefined brush shapes, different textures and different objects. The drawings are saved in folders and can be viewed in the gallery in different display modes.
The second application is a classic board game for two or more players. The goal of the game is to go through the enchanted forest as quickly as possible and bring your character to the last field.
The game is played by throwing digital dice. Among ordinary fields the game incorporates special trick fields which test knowledge. All questions are related to the content which may be discovered throughout the exhibition so that those who have attentively absorbed the knowledge presented on the ground floor of Ivana's House can more rapidly progress in the game.
In the virtual realm of project presentation we devised several different web projects. One of them is the Database of Fairy Tales, which aims to provide education on the nature of fairy tales but also strives to become a central online site for archiving, searching and viewing of works, author biographies and other interesting information related to the world of fairy tales. In the future the website will contain works of domestic and foreign authors in their text format and as audio recordings.
As the main presentation tool we created an internet site for the visitor centre and an iPad application that integrates all information and through a fun game presents the project to all potential visitors.
The contents of all applications complement each other and serve the educational nature of the exhibition. The system is designed as flexible so that at any time it is possible to set up new content on each individual screen. For topics which may be of current importance the content may be updated and adjusted, which, in this time and age, is a feature crucial for the longevity of the exhibition.
The overall concept of the project is such that long-term it strives to become a magnet for the development of cultural tourism and serve as an encouragement to the wider local community to become more engaged and take part in the creation of supporting programmes and offer. Indeed, the project in question is a global cultural attraction as it positions the City of Ogulin on the tourist and cultural map of Croatia, Europe and the world as a desirable experience destination.
At the exit of the exhibition space we created a digital guestbook which is an important medium of communication between Ivana's House of Fairy Tales and its visitors. After visiting the exhibition or participating in the programmes, the visitors have the opportunity to write down and share their impressions with others.
Children and parents have been leaving the house delighted since its opening, but the most memorable entry in the guestbook belongs to the seven-year-old Antonela: “This is the best day of my entire life”. Truly there is no better comment an exhibition may receive than that of an honest child.
The profession has recognized both the value and quality of the project, the testament of which are the awards which keep coming. At the biennial exhibition of Croatian design 1314 the Croatian Designers Society awarded the interactive installation the Magic Mirror in the Design and digital media/Interaction design category, while the national museum profession award was received for the best permanent exhibition in 2014 from the Croatian Museum Association.
However, all the facts related to this project, ... , will convince you that in Ogulin, as a result of a methodical collaborative effort of a number of participants contributing to ideas and complementing each other’s knowledge and skills one of the most important projects in the Croatian contemporary cultural and tourist offer has come to be. Ivan Dorotić, Viskultura