Voices from the Front at the National WWII Museum


The National WWII Museum


New Orleans, Louisiana

Ideum had the honor of collaborating with The National WWII Museum and StoryFile on Voices from the Front, an interactive experience connecting Museum visitors with people who lived through WWII in an authentic way using cutting-edge technology. In November 2023, the National WWII Museum opened a version of the interactive for the Our War Too: Women in Service exhibition, which featured 3 female interviewees who served in the war. In March 2024, a version of the experience opened in the Museum’s Malcolm S. Forbes Rare and Iconic Artifacts Gallery, this time with 18 interviewees from a variety of backgrounds, with vastly different experiences of the war. 

Ideum designed, developed, and refined the user interface for Voices from the Front, using underlying technology from StoryFile. StoryFile’s system uses artificial intelligence and a repository of recorded answers to hundreds of questions asked during hours of interviews.  When a user asks a question, StoryFile’s AI system listens, transcribes the question, and searches through all of the interview clips to find a natural, conversational answer, and serves up that authentic, pre-recorded video. 

Ideum worked with our partners to integrate this new technology into a comfortable, conversational experience for Museum visitors. This involved creating an intuitive touchscreen user interface that guides visitors through the process, provides enough information and prompting to inspire the visitor to ask questions of their own, and removes any discomfort in interacting with a novel system. For the Forbes Gallery, Ideum also programmed a special microphone to provide visual feedback indicating whether the visitor’s question was being heard. The Forbes Gallery version also provides visitors a way to filter the different kinds of experiences to choose which they’d like to learn about, in order to narrow their choice from among the 18 interviewees. 

The resulting experiences at the National WWII Museum give visitors a chance to connect with the real faces, voices, and stories of veterans, home front workers, Holocaust survivors, and other witnesses to the war. Asking questions with one’s own voice and receiving real answers is sure to have implications for experience design, oral history, and authentic historical representation. Ideum is proud to have been a part of developing Voices from the Front.  

Visit Voices from the Front in the Malcolm S. Forbes Rare and Iconic Artifacts Gallery at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

The exhibit shows one of the interviewed veterans, Tolley Fletcher, awaiting a user to ask questions.
The UI was designed, developed, and refined by Ideum.
Olin Pickens, a 102-year old WWII veteran, interviews himself in the Forbes Gallery.
Margaret Kerry, a Voices from the Front interviewee, talks to CBS Sunday Morning before the Forbes Gallery opening