Going Digital with the Over 75s

4 September 2017

Birmingham Museum & Gallery’s (BMAG) latest engagement pilot project sees the gallery’s learning team working with local care homes to explore new opportunities for engaging older audiences.

Developed alongside BMAG’s National Partners Programme exhibition, I Want! I Want!: Art & Technology, the project sees the learning team using a range of digital technologies to take work from the exhibition beyond the walls of the gallery.

As BMAG’s Jon Sleigh explains, ‘Considerations such as mobility and sensory awareness mean its not always easy for older audiences to access galleries and we were keen to look at using digital technology to explore possibilities for site participation. Based on a visitor contact, we were able to identify and build a relationship with Tandy Court, a care home with 40 residents mostly over 75 and many living with dementia at varying stages.’

Jon devised and facilitated a session using ideas and artworks from I Want! I Want, an exhibition exploring the development of technology over the last 20 years, as a starting point. The session was split in two parts, object handling and a live gallery stream via Facetime.


Object Handling

The day began with an object handling session, taking Stefan Gec's Arts Council Collection work, Untitled (Apollo - Soyuz Test Project) (2003), as a starting point to explore memories and recollections from the 1970s.

Items from the period, such as magazines, clothing and patterned fabrics were provided and served as a gateway to conversation with participants, evoking their own recollections of the period.

‘’Jon and I experienced a very special moment with an 84 year old lady named Iris. As soon as I approached her and introduced myself, she lit up and became engaged. She was overwhelmingly positive and responsive, commenting on images of actors in the 70s magazines; telling me the sorts of things she used to wear... it will remain as a personal treasured memory and a point of significant professional growth”
Rebecca Williamson volunteer learning assistant

The Arts Council Collection : Going Digital with the Over 75s

Interactive Live Stream

The Arts Council Collection : Going Digital with the Over 75s


The second part of the day offered participants a chance to experience a self-directed virtual tour of BMAG’s exhibition, Want! I Want!, using iPads to relay a live video stream from the Gallery to the care home.

“I found reactions to the livestream incredibly moving and rewarding” explains Jon, ‘Staff and clients were able to direct their experience of the exhibition by instructing the engagement volunteer to spend time looking at and discussing the pieces that most interested them in the gallery space via the live stream.

‘The combination of object handling and live stream was a great success and following our visit to the care home we were able to arrange for the residents to visit the Gallery and see the artworks in person."


Find out more about the National Partners Programme


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.