Encountering the Unexpected was an ambitious two-year action research project which challenged six museums to change the way they work with older people by framing their natural heritage collections through the lens of living and ageing well and nature connectedness. Funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, run by the Museums Association, our experiment focused on offering opportunities for older people to take part in a meaningful engagement experience that would reconnect them to the natural world through an unexpected encounter.

It was an experimental process, raising possibilities, asking questions, capturing experiences and reflecting on challenges and opportunities. Through the project we developed the Unexpected Encounters Framework that will support museums in their work with older people and their collections, and involve the sector in broader debates about how older people are recognised and valued within society.

Find out more about our experiment below. Full references can be found in the Unexpected Encounters publication.