Stolen Memory

Stolen Memory

Organisation: La Nación (Costa Rica) (Costa Rica)

Publication Date: 04/03/2017

Size of team/newsroom:large


Stolen Memory (Memoria Robada) is a multimedia, data-driven investigation about the cultural heritage trafficking in the country. This investigation was part of a transnational project in five countries, leaded by Ojo Público in Perú. It was the first investigation that used databases to picture and reveal this organized crime in Latin America. In Costa Rica we revealed how a network of local art dealers sold precious historical pieces in exchange of thousands of dollars. We showed the magnitude of these crimes in an interactive story with graphs and data. We combine this visual chapter complemented with texts to allow the user to explore the information using different formats. For this project we examined 40 files of judicial proceedings, in the National Museum Archive, dated between 2010 and June 2016. With this documents we built a database with 710 recovered objects. In addition we analyzed files of auctions in Europe and the United States where the National Museum detected that prehispanic costa rican pieces were being sold. Finally, we consulted files of object repatriations that the Costa Rican government is processing with six countries. This project required three months of investigation, the examination of more than 4.000 sheets of paper and 16 interviews.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

For the Costa Rican chapter of the regional investigation "Stolen Memory ", we used data visualizations to tell the hidden stories of the looting of Costa Rica's cultural heritage. The objects coveted by the traffickers of the indigenous past, are described in detail and accompanied with 360° images. In addition, the interactive explains how these objects are sold in international auctions, the struggles their home countries face to recover them, and gives a detailed description - with images - of 710 local objects that people illegally maintained in their possession and that have been recovered by the authorities

Technologies used for this project:

We used HTML, CSS and jQuery for the front end, in addition JSON's data for accessing and manipulating the recovered objects. We used Tooltipster.js for the graphs, SVG for infographics, Velocity.js for interaction and Spritespin.js for the 360° interactive. The responsive part of the application was made with media query's.
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