Farbfotografie eines orangenen Rettungsrings, darauf steht in schwarzer Schrift MS CAP ANAMUR HAMBURG
Eines der vielen Objekte im Virtuellen Migrationsmuseum, Rettungsring von Cap Anamur, DOMiD-Archiv

The Digital Horizon 03: "The Virtual Migration Museum – A Journey through Time and Space"

07.11.2018 A guest article by Sandra Vacca, Project Coordinator (DOMiD)

In future we will be presenting exciting topics and projects from data partners and cooperation partners of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library) in a series of guest articles: whether it is a new way of approaching certain holdings or a historical epoch, a new virtual exhibition or a special digitisation scheme. The idea behind this? A glance over our digital horizon, in which we would like our readers to take part!

In today’s (third) guest article, the Project Leader Sandra Vacca presents the Virtual Migration Museum – a project of the DOMiD, the Dokumentationszentrum und Museum über die Migration in Deutschland e. V. (Documentation Centre and Museum of Migration in Germany), funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education and the Rhineland Regional Council.


The Virtual Migration Museum - A Journey through Time and Space

DOMiD, the Documentation Centre and Museum of Migration in Germany, is collecting nationwide the story (stories) of migration(s) in and to Germany in all their forms and manifestations, with the long-term objective of establishing a museum. Since its foundation in 1990, DOMiD has collected more than 150,000 exhibits and archive documents, which are stored in depots and which can be viewed or researched by visitors on a regular basis.

DOMiD-Archiv, Dietrich Hackenberg
DOMiD-Archiv, Dietrich Hackenberg

In a society which is moving more and more in the virtual space, the association found that it made sense to use the medium of the internet in an experimental and innovative way to increase visibility and access to the collection: thus the idea of a virtual museum emerged, which can be accessed free of charge from everywhere in the world, at any time of day or night.

The museum devotes itself to the depiction of migration(s) as a phenomenon (phenomena), but also as an individual and collective experience. In doing so all types of migrations in and to Germany are dealt with and the lesser-heard voices and stories uncovered. The effects of migration on different aspects of society are also presented in a multi-perspective way.

An unusual setting

Inspired by gaming and 360° projects like Hinterhaus Online (Secret Annex Online), DOMiD decided on an innovative format which differs substantially from classic portals and websites. Instead of an inflexible website, a fictional city landscape was developed in which visitors can explore nine themed buildings – such as, for instance, the office for “Migration, Law and Bureaucracy”, the factory for “Migration and Work” or the railway station for all questions relating to mobility. These spaces can be visited in the classic way via a computer, but can also be experienced with a 3D virtual reality headset.

The flexibility of the medium of the internet was used to a maximum. This enables the visitors to make a journey through time, travelling through three time periods which are oriented towards significant events of (migration) history. In order to reach a wider public, the museum was designed in two languages (German and English).

In the different spaces the visitors can discover around 1000 exhibits which tell the story (stories) of migration. By clicking on an exhibit you will reach a kind of showcase to explore a themed area. Whether audios, videos, interviews with contemporary witnesses, photographs, archive documents or 3D objects: the Virtual Migration Museum provides visitors from all over the world with a wide range of sources as never before.

Going digital - everything easy?

The digital medium offers diverse advantages. On the one hand the app can be expanded – for example, new buildings can come into existence. On the other hand DOMiD can upload new exhibits itself  quickly and straightforwardly with the aid of a CMS. This function enables the museum to react to current events and to continually update or supplement its exhibitions. Newly-collected stories, objects or archive documents can reach a wide public more quickly.

Eines der vielen Objekte im Virtuellen Migrationsmuseum, Rettungsring von Cap Anamur, DOMiD-Archiv
Eines der vielen Objekte im Virtuellen Migrationsmuseum, Rettungsring von Cap Anamur, DOMiD-Archiv

However, digitisation also involves great challenges, for example of a technical or legal nature. Clarifying usage rights and image rights is meticulous and painstaking work owing to the easy accessibility of the internet. Where there are no physical limitations, there are frequently no limitations to usage costs – especially for projects like these which are not limited in time.

Looking into the future

This is only the beginning  of the adventure for DOMiD’s Virtual Migration Museum. We are observing excitedly further technical developments around Virtual Reality and would like to develop further formats in perspective. In future the museum will offer educational activities, but will also be a participatory platform, by means of which cooperation partners (universities, school, associations …) can also offer temporary exhibitions or new topics. With this in mind, we look forward to cooperation offers, but also to proposed topics as well as new stories.

The museum belongs to everyone, even virtually.


The Virtual Migration Museum was funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education and the Rhineland Regional Council. At the moment the museum is available in the form of an application for desktops for Windows and Mac. Other formats, such as apps for mobile phones and tablets and a VR application, are in the process of being developed and will be announced on our homepage as well as our social media channels (Facebook , Instagram und Twitter).