• Natural History Museum
  • Science Museum
  • British Museum
  • V&A Museum
Project outline:

For Man and the Machine, the group met on a weekly basis, the first work was taking photographs of artefacts and images at the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum and the V&A Museum. The photographic material was processed between the sessions, the photographs were cut up, drawn and painted on and collaged together to make images celebrating the title of the project and the participants experiences of the museums. Words and stories were taken from the collage images and a libretto was written with Saffron Van Zwanenberg (Artistic Director at Jackdaws Music Education Trust). The rehearsing of the libretto inspired the production of further images for the production of a song book. The performances were part of the late night events at the V&A and Science Museum.

Project aims:
  • To improve access in museums and galleries and promote social inclusion by actively supporting people with learning disability and on the autistic spectrum to use and enjoy this mainstream facility.
  • To work with museum and galleries by providing activities, including ongoing arts and heritage based courses for pwld and autism.
  • To work with museum staff, care staff, parents and the museum going public towards greater awareness of the needs of people with learning disability and autism. This included encouraging people to be more receptive to different types and level of communication, and increasing people’s understanding of the social isolation experienced by pwld and autism.
  • To assist participants, in the long term, as their self confidence increased to become involved in other mainstream museum activities, for example some participants attended V&A late night performances at a very affordable cost to them, this could happen on a much bigger scale
  • To help pwld and autism to gain knowledge and understanding (there are big gaps in people’s education). Exploring galleries and museums histories and collections, enriched their educations, participants contributed to the roles and function of galleries and museums by feeding back their opinions to the organisations.
Project achievements:

Man and the Machine, built on what Outside In had already achieved by raising the profile of people with learning disability in a positive way, by working with participants in public exhibition spaces an by winning the Jodi Award 2008 for excellent work in digital media with people with learning disability.

Man and the machine took another step when it engaged participants in becoming part of the museum programmes as they performed in late night performances.

‘The best thing about this is the people here.’


‘It is amazing how many different activities there are to do here. I didn’t realise what these museums have to offer. It makes me think we should do more of this.’


‘Her voice was amazing – fantastic, the way that it soared up into the gallery. So effective in here.’

Audience member, V&A


People from one of the most culturally marginalised groups to unlock their inheritance and their hidden histories which have been overlaid by cultural norms.


Taking place over two years, culminating in performances and generating partnerships with museums, galleries and theatres along the River Thames.


A multidisciplinary group of British artists worked with the group of participants who are typically excluded from both the artistic process to create original pieces based on the theme of wealth and poverty.