ilCartastorie: Storytelling in the archives

ilCartastorie is an innovative awareness-raising project which aims to promote and protect the cultural heritage found within the Historical Archives of the Banco di Napoli Foundation, located in the centre of Naples in the South of Italy and home to some of the most important bank archives in the world. Thanks to the meticulous accounts kept by the bank, the archives offer a fascinating insight into the 500 years of Neapolitan life underlying the economy of Southern Italy. The museum project brings these priceless archives to life through creative multimedia resources and imaginative tours.

The activities carried out in the archives have been wide-ranging and have included storytelling tours through the archives; digital storytelling projects; the production of short films and theatrical performances. The plays were inspired by research done in the archives and were written during the archive’s annual creative writing workshops while the raconteur guides use the history gathered within the archives as the foundation on which they build their narratives. Creativity is fostered by hosting local artists, musicians and poets to share their work related to the archives.

The engaging way in which narrative tours and storytelling workshops are used to introduce visitors to different sections of the archive  transforms the static information  into a dynamic source for the community, which encourages public reflection and participation in this valuable resource”, highlighted the jury. While the stories within the pages take the centre stage, their link to the physical archives is also emphasised. Visitors can actually turn the pages of one of the ledgers, they can browse through the debits and credits of a personal account and they can witness how the archives, and Naples, would have looked in the past.

The jury much appreciated the museum’s approach, noting that “visitors have access to cross referencing elements of tangible and intangible culture across several different eras”. In this way, the project shows how tangible and intangible culture are so enduringly linked.

ilCartastorie: Storytelling in the archives, Naples, ITALY
The success that ilCartastorie has had in motivating the community in Naples can be viewed as a great incentive for similar sites and provides an important example for the rest of Europe, where archival history has an impressive legacy. “This initiative is easily applicable to any archive across Europe and is an imaginative and vibrant way of including the wider community in this type of heritage. It inspires the participants to value their local heritage and thus protect it”, stated the jury.