Somali nomadic culture explored through virtual world

Women looking at exhibits

Heritage Grants

LONDON, London
Kayd Somali Arts & Culture
The Nomad Project involved a wider range of people in heritage through digital exploration of Somali artefacts.

Bowls, water carriers, incense burners, head rests and wooden spoons were vital tools for Somali herders forever on the move. Brooches, toys and other small luxuries also had a place.

They reveal a fascinating but fast-disappearing lifestyle explored in Kayd Somali Arts & Culture’s innovative Nomad Project, led by Abira Hussein and Mnemoscene and supported by a £10,000 Heritage Fund grant. 

Somali objects owned by community members were brought to workshops. Visits were also made to museum storage. Volunteers developed new skills so they could create 3D digitised versions of these objects.  

Mnemoscene built a virtual world using 1930s visuals and 1980s sounds of Somalia sourced from The British Library. Viewable through a special headset, this provided a backdrop for 3D digital nomads to use the digitised objects. This experience was made available to 4,500 people attending Somali Festival Week 2018.

Attendees learned about the intangible heritage of usage and rituals that surround objects, and were asked: if you had to keep moving, keeping only what you could carry, what would you take with you? 

The objects and the experiences of their owners, recorded as oral histories, are stored, identified and explained on the project’s online archive