The Story Altar (Verhalenaltaar) was developed in 2003 by Waag in association with the Amsterdam museum Ons' Lieve heer op Solder.

The project researched the possibilities of new media for the preservation of cultural heritage. Historian Judith Koelemeijer called this process 'emergency anthropology': capturing cultural heritage of the 20th century before it disappears because the storytellers get too ill or die.

Visitors were invited to bring a personal object which is connected to their experience of one of the sacraments. In the Story Altar, which has the appearance of a tabernacle, a digital camera was integrated. The object is put on a velvet cushion in the altar. The Story Altar was part of an exhibition at the museum and blended well with the museum contents. Museum Amstelkring is one of the most cherished museums in Amsterdam with a special atmosphere that surprises every visitor.

The attic of this bourgeois house conceals a secret Catholic church, known as Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Dear Lord in the Attic), originally built in 1663, when Catholics lost their right to workship in their own way. In a very simple manner the visitor could manipulate the lighting and have the object photographed. On the computers next to the Story Altar, the picture appeared in the web album of the Story Altar. Here, visitors could add their anecdotes and stories to the picture. These were also published on a website that accompanied the exhibition.

Project duration

31 Dec 2002 - 13 May 2004


  • Museum Ons Lieve Heer op Solder