Multilingual Switzerland - 2023

National Museum Zurich

Languages are not merely a means of communication; they determine our everyday lives, are part of our culture, touch us directly and connect us with other people or set us apart from them. Anyone who walks through one of Switzerland's large train stations will immediately notice that, in addition to the four national languages, countless other languages as well as dialects, accents and slangs can be heard. Language is subject to constant change and is closely linked to human history. The Swiss National Museum takes visitors on a sensory journey through Switzerland's linguistic regions. Since spoken language is transported by the voice, it was clear to us that we wanted to speak to visitors directly instead of confronting them with masses of printed text. Therefore, together with the team of the National Museum, we developed an exhibition concept that mainly banks on sound. The high-precision IAGS system, which we developed as part of an innosuisse research project together with the company iart and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, is used here. With its high-precision location tracking and a binaural sound engine, it allows visitors to interact with the space and the exhibits in real time in the manner of a computer game. Accompanied by two invisible tour guides, they move through a kind of invisible, three-dimensional sound installation in which they immerse themselves in a wide variety of sceneries, ranging from the stands of an ice hockey stadium during a game to a high alpine cow meadow. They can intuitively turn to the people and events they encounter and interact with them, similar to a conversation in everyday life. In this way, the complex subject matter of the exhibition is conveyed in a highly playful and sensual way. Since many of the occurring sounds have a specific reference to Switzerland, we made recordings in a dedicated 8-channel 3D sound format (ORTF-3D) at various locations in Switzerland, which were subsequently integrated into the interactive environment.


Client: Swiss National Museum
Curator: Thomas Bochet
Scenography: Alex Harb
Scientific Collaborators: Maxi Weibel, Melanie Würth
Script: Vincent Kuchol
Audio Guide System: iart
Graphic Design: Büro4
Photos: Swiss National Museum