Age Friendly Museums are ‘Encountering the Unexpected’

July 2016 saw the first exciting collaborative ‘exchanges’ between the project team, museums and strategic partners with a new project Encountering the Unexpected.


The two year project aims to transform the way in which museums use their natural heritage collections, by creating meaningful encounters between older people and collections that abound with the unfamiliar, the extraordinary and the unexpected. It will identify and explore how these rich collections can be activated to support and enthuse older people; to re-connect with the contemporary and fast changing world around them; and to encourage them to have a stake in the future

The first ‘exchange’ explored values and ambitions, the needs of older people as well as exploring ‘connectedness’ in the natural world.  The natural world has something for everyone and is everywhere. There is often an emotional link with nature which can be rewarding and enlightening. So what can museums with natural history collections do to engage their older audiences?

Funded by the Museum Association’s Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, Encountering the Unexpected is a partnership between the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG), University of Leicester, the North West Natural History Museums Partnership, and strategic partners including The Eden Project, Age UK and Equal Arts as well as the Age Friendly Museums Network.

(Photograph: Benedict Johnson. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum)

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