Project Type: <span>Research</span>

Natural History Museum

A major research and consultation project working with curatorial and Learning teams to develop a new Children’s Gallery, a global international education initiative, onsite programming and online activities. We worked alongside the teams onsite on remotely to establish the guiding principles for the project, develop key interpretive themes and programming which engages young people with caring for and understanding their immediate natural environments and ecosystems as well as those globally.

The research explored how to:

  • Optimise the experience of the new Children’s Gallery, through activities on themes of Wild Voices, connecting with animals’ lives in different habitats.
  • Lift barriers of access to schools, families and groups with intersecting factors of disadvantage or SENDs, by consulting them, travelling to settings with activities, and easing their experience of the NHM as a whole.
  • Inspire and acknowledge young children as imaginative friends of the natural world, and provide templates for partners in the GEI, through online resources for digital and real-world play and nature connection.
  • Develop skills of adults (including NHM staff and volunteers) to reconnect with nature and support children through a ’School of Nature Play’.
  • To do action research as the activities are developed, to serve the global initiatve with insights.

Museum of London: Before London

We were commissioned by Museum of London to carry out formative research to inform the design of the Before London gallery at their new site in Smithfield Market. MoL wanted to understand what objects their target visitor groups would respond to, their reactions to the proposed graphical and illustation styles and how people understand the timespan of pre-history.

Working with the Museum’s curators, Learning team and designers, we ran a number of collaborative and interactive online consultation workshops which explored the materials from the galleries in detail. Flow carefully recruited a breadth of visitors and non-visitors representing adults and teachers and led sessions discussing and exploring content to understand their reactions, understanding and interests. With teachers we spoke in depth about how they teach pre-history at Key Stage 2 and how physical visits to the museums, the interpretation and in-gallery design would support learning about London, the environment, it’s people and their lives.

The research was presented in person to the clients with Flow leading a discussion on it’s insights and a written report and a full appendix of material provided.

With Flow’s expertise in Experience Design and Museum Learning, we love to work with clients on formative research. If you are looking to clarify or test approaches to new exhibitions or projects, we would love to talk with you about how we can help you design the best for your visitors.

Arts Council England & Art Fund

Flow Associates were commissioned by Art Fund and the Arts Council to explore the potential for national youth provision in the Visual Arts. The study arose from a question:

if there are national youth schemes in music and the performing arts, what are the gaps in youth provision in the Visual Arts and what kind of programme could help fill them?

A first phase of information gathering resulted in an understanding of what already exists in this area, and the systemic issues affecting young people’s access to learning and careers in the Visual Arts.  Situation Analysis and Comparative review of programmes in Visual Arts and in other artforms, as well as initial conversations with young practitioners and Visual Arts education experts enabled us to map the current context and engage with museums, galleries, charities and youth organisations nationally.

This informed the second phase of our research, enabling us to offer a ‘Story of Change’ for a possible programme of a new form of creative provision for young people. We consulted across the UK, facilitating co-design sessions with young people, creative professionals and providers, and conducted extensive interviews with visual arts leaders.



GLAM Oxford Non-Visitor Research

Working with the museums, libraries and gardens which make up the GLAM Oxford group, we undertook research and consultancy to help them better plan for how they reach local non-visiting audiences.

Through focus groups, online surveys and telephone interviews, local people and organisations from across Oxford contributed to us building a picture of the barriers to cultural engagement in the city.

We created actionable steps for the venues individually and as a group to help them build a strategy which opens the door for them to serve their local communities and audiences.

Corali – Advocacy report

Corali is a leader in dance created by artists with a learning disability.

We were commissioned to research and produce a 30th anniversary report showcasing their work and the impact they have on their community. We facilitated a story of change workshop with the core team, reviewed their archive of photos and documentation, attended workshops, performances and celebration events, and spoke with dancers and their families and carers.

Our report brought together 30 years of creativity and community spirit and will be used as an advocacy resource to attract funding and support in years to come.

Long Live Southbank – The Undercroft

We are working with the skaters at Southbank’s Undercroft to help them to tell their story of change. Following a successful fundraising campaign and refurbishment project, LLSB and the Southbank Centre hope to see the skatespot being used by more girls and young people.

We will be working with LLSB and Southbank until 2022, observing the space, collecting data and interviewing skaters about their experience. Our baseline research in 2019 revealed a multi-cultural, multi talented community, and data captured since shows their potential to develop and thrive.

Museum of London – Deep Time

Flow were commissioned to test the concept for Deep Time, a space within the new Museum of London site at Smithfield Market which
will invite visitors to experience the magic of the Museum store.

This space will include a working store, styled to highlight the enormity of the collection, and a digital portal into the museum’s other stores. Visitors will be able to explore the collection in a number of ways, physically and virtually, and through this the histories contained within them.

Key to the concept is a sense of discovery and play. Adults and families will be invited into a space which is usually set for Key Stage 2 school groups, so it is important that it is designed to cater for all.

Our research tested with key audience groups how people can connect with the space and its content on a physical, emotional, and
intellectual level, ensuring that it is accessible to a range of audiences. Through workshops and site visits with families and young “Experience Seekers”, we tested object handling approaches and looked at how groups interacted with working museum storage spaces.


A report, presentation and set of recommendations was produced to inform the design brief and curatorial approach within the gallery.