Democracy does not exist – we make it!

The National Museums of World Culture has a longstanding collaboration with the research institute Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) at Gothenburg University and together we wish to make their research on global democratic developments more accessible by highlighting the stories behind the statistics.


Based on the assumption that Democracy does not exist – we make it! this project aims to explore how research institutes, cultural heritage institutions and civil society can work together to increase the understanding and importance of democratic engagement.

By forefronting objects of democracy and personal stories from democratic movements around the world, we wish to unpack the statistics from V-Dem which measures democracy according to five principles or building blocks: fair elections (electoral democracy); freedom (liberal democracy); equality (egalitarian democracy), openness (deliberative democracy), and everyone participates (participatory democracy).

The stories we collect will portray these five democratic building blocks. They are recorded in collaboration with the civil society organisation European Alternatives as well as Anna Lindh Foundation network in Sweden. The end goal is to develop a digital learning resource (website) in which the stories and the statistics complement each other with the aim to be used by secondary school students and teachers as well as anyone interested in questions of democracy.

The project is financed by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Watch (in Swedish) Helen Arfvidsson and Mattias Kästel talk and think about museums' democratic potential. Can museums function as democratic meeting places? Can museums contribute new perspectives and approaches to issues of our time?


Helen Arfvidsson