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Screenshot 2015-06-25 18.02.40

I’ll be chairing the morning session of Culture24’s conference, Connecting Collections (link here Connecting Collections) at the National Maritime Museum on 29th June. This should be a really stimulating day, as it goes beyond talking about digital tactics, to exploring how best to connect learners with cultural collections and stories. I’ve been chewing on this question since first helping to set up Tate’s website in 1995, when I argued that its structure should reflect needs of audiences (and especially curious, learning audiences) rather than our internal silos. I then worked on digital access to the British Library’s millions of collection items, including the Sound Archive. The British Library is currently doing inspiring work with young people exploring digital rights and democracy, as part of the Magna Carta celebrations. Since setting up Flow in 2006, I’ve worked on a large number of projects exploring ways to engage learners with cultural collections, using digital means, working for many national and regional museums, ACE, English Heritage, the BFI, HLF and more.

More recently, Flow UK has been working on a few projects that continue chewing away at this issue. For example, we conducted the digital strand of the ACE-funded Stronger Together project. This explored how schools and museums could move beyond a ‘vendor’ model of education delivery towards more rewarding co-development of initiatives with richer outcomes for all participants. For the digital strand, we looked at the role digital technologies are playing in museum learning around the world. We then explored how this practice can be incorporated to strengthen partnerships between schools and museums. You can read our report here Stronger Together Digital research

Also we’ve worked with Artswork South East on their initiative, Extending Digital Practice. This included three projects in Eastbourne, Margate and Oxford, drawing together museums/galleries, schools and digital practitioners or agencies to deliver innovative work with young people. As part of our evaluation of these projects, we carried out some background research to:

  • Define what innovative digital practice in learning looks like now in terms of principles and behaviours
  • Explain what initiatives and practice exists already, especially in Cultural Education partnerships, and in the South East
  • Identify any gaps or weaknesses, which could be supported by sharing learning.

You can download the background report on this link 

There’s also a handy infographic (link here) which we commissioned recently condensing some of its key concepts.

FLOW-digital-graphic-WEBdone

 

A quick update: Here are lots of links to good projects and research, from a Digital Learning Network chat about connecting learners with cultural collections.

Blog

Flow-er needed

Our team in Flow UK is looking for a ‘paid volunteer’ who wants early career experience in arts, heritage and science engagement. We’d like to hear from students or graduates, of any age, with lots of enthusiasm. You might have some knowledge of areas such as museums, market research, teaching, community arts, graphic design, experience design or science communication.

The main work coming up is supporting workshops where we consult with audience groups and evaluate events such as festivals.
The main skillsets for this are:
– able to chat sensitively and confidently with all kinds of people (while also being unobtrusive)
– able to take and transcribe notes, use a camera and document events as they happen
– able to help make posters, handouts, displays etc.
We can pay £50 per day plus travel costs when attending events (e.g. in London, Cambridge, Oxford). You will benefit from our insights based on decades of experience in the cultural sector. Because we are a business that depends on winning short contracts, there is no guarantee of work.
Please email bridget.mckenzie@flowassociates.com with an online CV, your website, or a CV attached, as well as a very brief note on why you’d like to work with us.
We are led by our values in Flow – and are committed to equality, social justice and environmental sustainability. We will not discriminate on any grounds.
Blog

Busy times

Here’s a long promised update on our latest work in Flow UK so far in 2015. We’ve been collaborating with established friends such as Vivienne Reiss, KCA London and Guerilla Science, and with new associates, including service designer Daniela Ivanova, and Anna Salaman, former Head of Formal Learning at Royal Museums Greenwich.

Some new projects include:

Developing an evaluation framework for Encounters Arts, for their Connect and Inspire programme of projects.

Evaluating Travellers’ Tails, the programme of exhibitions, events, volunteers and a digital tool, accompanying the funded acquisition of two Stubbs paintings of a kangaroo and a dingo.

In a similar vein, evaluating the programme of events, tour and community projects surrounding the funded acquisition by the Ashmolean Museum of Manet’s portrait of Mademoiselle Fanny Claus.

Evaluating the process and partnerships of the ACE-managed national Museums and Schools Programme, and developing an outcomes-based evaluation framework for the next phase.

Working with Guerilla Science, the Festival of the Spoken Nerd, and Ravensbourne on running the Super Human Academy for secondary school pupils to encounter exciting future technologies, supported by Intel.

Evaluating SMASHFestUK, a unique kind of science festival for young people produced by The Registry and hosted by Lewisham organisations such as The Albany Theatre and Deptford Lounge.

Supporting the Maritime Greenwich WHS learning group to sustain and grow its cultural learning partnership, working with schools and arts, heritage and environmental organisations across the borough.

Continuing to develop The Story of the Crick, the heritage activity programme for the new Francis Crick Institute.

We also have four or five more exciting projects in development, with Flow India and associates, and more news about these will come in due course.

News

Turning of the year

It’s traditional to write a newsletter or year’s reflection at this time. We had wanted to be a bit less traditional, but there hasn’t been a moment to draw breath. It’s been a really lively Autumn for us here in Flow UK. Susanne Buck joined us in the summer as a new director, bringing some fresh ideas for the future and ways of doing things. We’ve added a few new projects to our portfolio, including:

Working with artist Paul St George on an exciting project for World Heritage Sites

Evaluating a contemporary public art project led by Modus Operandi, for the transformation of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter in Oxford

Working with Guerrilla Science on workshops exploring biofuels and seeds in creative ways

Working as part of KCA’s team to develop the heritage aspect of the public programme for the new Crick Institute at St Pancras. This brings together the heritage of several major medical organisations, and will reflect the health-related heritage of the local area.

We’re also still working on two research projects into digital cultural learning, one for Artswork SE, the other for the ACE-funded Stronger Together project. Bridget is coming to the end of her year helping co-ordinate the Maritime Greenwich WHS Learning group.

Flow India has been busy running transformative programmes in schools and museums in New Delhi and Indore. Several projects this term have using contemporary art and local heritage to explore environmental themes such as gardens, trees and water.

New projects are already brewing for 2015. Hopefully, we’ll find time to let you know about them soon.

Blog

A bit of history, looking to the future

This new website heralds a new phase of sharing between Flow UK and Flow India, under a new umbrella of FlowGlobal.

This means building bridges to work on a more international basis and with a stronger mission of creating futures. In part, it’s a new phase as we’re delighted to welcome on board our new co-director Susanne Buck, with whom we will develop a strong foundation to the business and a new strand of Experience Design. Mark Stevenson will continue his association with FlowGlobal but is giving more time to an exciting new venture, We Do Things Differently.

It’s a clean slate in a way but we’re not eliminating our history. Between our small team in London and a bigger, growing one in Delhi, we have spent countless hours on Skype, email and in person, developing Creative Enquiry to suit education in both national contexts, forging methods for evaluation using Theory of Change, and adapting Service Design for digital projects in the Cultural sector.

We’ve delivered so many projects since we set up Flow in 2006 that it’s easy to lose track of the detail sometimes. However, there is still plenty of free-flowing knowledge between us, and it’s not trapped in the sediments of archived reports.

This is a bit of reflection on some of the cultural sector consultancy projects we’ve done in the past 2 years. As well as consultancy, and especially in India, we have also delivered courses, workshops, summer camps and culture labs in schools for many thousands of children and young people.

Bridget has led cultural consultancy projects working with Flow India’s directors and other associates including Susanne Buck, Mike Ellis, Rebecca Birch, Joanna Holland, Sarah May, Wendy Earle, Dr Lindsay Keith, James Aldridge, and others.

These are are our main consultancy and research projects in the UK over the past two years.

Currently we’re working on:

  • Co-ordinating the Learning partnership across the World Heritage Site of Maritime Greenwich.
  • Evaluating the outreach and education programme supporting the Ashmolean Museum’s acquisition of Manet’s portrait of Mademoiselle Fanny Claus
  • Evaluating the Extending Innovative Digital Practice programme, led by Artswork South East, with clusters of schools, arts organisations and tech companies in Oxford, Margate and Eastbourne
  • Researching digital innovation in school and museum partnerships, exploring possibilities for a Remote model of digital learning

And recently we’ve done:

And a few highlights from the previous year or so:

  • Audience research and a digital strategy for the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Exeter, which led to a new brand, website and engagement plan
  • Audience research and evaluation of the Heritage100 website which serves museums and their audiences across Hampshire and the Solent
  • Scoping and market research towards a Digital Collections Prospectus for researchers for RAMM in Exeter
  • Evaluating the schools projects of Resident artists and designers at the V&A Museum in their work with schools
  • Recently, we’ve also worked for the V&A to evaluate a guide to African collections and to evaluate a training course for Indian museum professionals held at the V&A
  • Three research projects on making in museums, on libraries and creative literacy, and on creative outreach strategies, to help development plans for The Children’s Museum London
  • Producing Caring for Reef and Shore (educational films and resources) for St Abbs & Eyemouth Marine Reserve
  • Evaluating the Caribbean Through a Lens community projects and web collections for The National Archives.
  • Research into needs of educational users to scope the digital education offer for the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, for English Heritage
  • Evaluation of the contemporary art programme of the Canal & River Trust, including research into evaluation of public art and environmental outcomes
  • INIVA and A Space, market research and marketing strategy for a new Creative Learning brand and an exciting toolkit of Emotional Learning Cards
  • A strategy for outreach, public participation and digital engagement for the successful HLF bid to develop the National Army Museum
  • Evaluation of a learning project called Spacemakers and the overall visitor experience of Kettle’s Yard, and a plan to evaluate their HLF-funded developments
  • Evaluation of the National Museums Online Learning Project. This is a major partnership project between 9 national museums, which resulted in Creative Spaces and WebQuests.

If you would like to find out more about any of these projects or discuss how we can help you with similar work, do get in touch. For a longer list of consultancy projects, see this.