A Brief Report on Multisensory Vadstena

08:33 by Karin Strinnholm Lagergren

14-18 June I met in Vadstena with my colleagues in the research project The Multisensory World of Vadstena Abbey in the Late Middle Ages, or simply: Multisensory Vadstena. The purpose of the project is the facilitating of total-immersion virtual-reality experiences within the latemedieval Birgittine abbey church at Vadstena.

Reconstructing is the keyword for the project and connects to a growing research field where multisensory aspects and reconstructing lost milieux by the help of Virtual Reality Technology and 3D Technology. Our team will during four years – from September 2017 until the end of 2020 – work with the following issues:


(1) Reconstructing the sensory experiences of nuns on their unique platform within the monastery church.

(2) Reconstructing the sensory experiences of clerics in their choir and in their unique cloister, both of which were located within the monastery church.

(3) Reconstructing the sensory experiences of the lay visitors, including pilgrims and (potential) donors on the floor of the nave of the monastery church.


Our USP is that we will stress the acoustic aspect in our model: How was the chant and other sounds in the church experienced by the listeners, participants and the many pilgrims in the church? Multisensory Vadstena will bring new life to Birgittine research, bringing many fields within this topic together: music, art, liturgy, (monastic) history, architecture.

Our team is a mix of people in a true interdisciplinary way:

Eva Lindqvist Sandgren (art history, Uppsala University), Volker Schier (musicology, Arizona State University, Leuven University), Corine Schleif (art history, Arizona State University), Stefan Lindgren (Digital Humanities Lab, Lund University), Delphine Bard (sound engineering, Lund University), and Hanna Hustio (PhD student in sound engineering, Lund University), and Karin Strinnholm Lagergren (musicology, Linnaeus University).

The meeting took place during the same week when excavations were carried out on the grass field between the abbey church (now parish church) and the building where St. Birgitta Convent Museum is housed. The purpose was to investigate the remnants of the cloister, excavated in the 1950s but poorly documented. Interesting findings were revealed and more excavations over the coming years can be expected! A few photos here:

Vadstena in itself is a treasure, probably one of Scandinavia’s most picturesque cities so just being there for a few days was as always good. Here a picture of pretty the House of Mårten Skinnare:

The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council and some more information can be found here: http://sensescapes.asu.edu/.

Karin Strinnholm Lagergren
Senior Lecturer at Linnaeus University
Senior lecturer in musicology and singer of medieval music. Research interest monastic chant, in particular Birgittines and Dominicans. In this blog I write, comment and reflect on my research project 'The Musical World of the Birgittine Order'. Expect loads of manuscript images, tricky chant problems and square notation!


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