Unexpected Encounters: How museums nurture living and ageing well

The Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)'s latest publication addresses the question of ageing at a time in which dominant perceptions of older age focus on decline, frailty, illness and dependence, linked to a medical model that pathologises and problematises ageing. The publication seeks to reverse the "deficit model" and focus instead on how museums can create more opportunities for people in the later stages of life to live in the moment, be actively engaged, have meaning and purpose and feel connected to their communities and the wider world.

"This publication emerges from the research project Encountering the Unexpected, an innovative two-year action research project that set out to challenge the (unconscious) assumptions that museums make about older people and find new approaches to engaging them with natural heritage collections. Initiated by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG), at the University of Leicester, and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, run by the Museums Association, Encountering the Unexpected worked with six museums from the North West Natural History Museums Partnership, specialists in  ageing, the environment and nature connectedness, and 100 older people to develop the Unexpected Encounters Framework that can support museums to nurture older people to live and age well, reconnect with the natural world and encourage meaningful engagement in the present.

Complementing the publication is the project website Encountering the Unexpected https://unexpectedencounters.le.ac.uk/ which draws on experiences and voices of all those involved in the project.

Unexpected Encounters is designed to raise questions and start conversations, to stimulate museum thinking and practice but most of all to engage with older people rights - a pressing social justice issue. We hope the publication and website will prompt more conversation and action."

Download the publication here or please find attached