Bringing Londoners together to reinvent their museum
The Museum of London holds the city’s memory. They’re expanding in size and moving from their current location near the Barbican to a new home in historic Smithfield Market. This is a turning point for the Museum and a significant moment for London – we’ve been working with their executive team for five years, to help them make the most of this change.
This work has included developing a new brand architecture and naming to be announced next year, as well as numerous projects that place radical participation at the heart of the Museum’s practice. The projects have not only delivered outputs that have quickly gained traction within the Museum, but also offered an inspiring personal experience of audience collaboration that is changing how the Museum behaves day to day.
Using imaginative and participatory processes, involving museum staff, experts and everyday Londoners, Something More Near helped the museum to answer a range of questions. From developing a framework for guide programming and testing the viability of naming and architecture, to rethinking the museum’s culture and organisational structures, our work has created the conditions for a truly 21st Century museum.
“Something More Near’s network approach really works – it brings fresh perspectives. For example, I love the fact that they brought a poet into our project. No one else would have even thought of doing that.”
A recent highlight was the design and facilitation of a two-week residency in an unused butcher’s shop in Smithfield market. We spoke with over 500 Londoners – from all of London’s 32 Boroughs, of which 36% were BAME, 52% were female – and worked with their thoughts and opinions to co-create the museum’s mission, positioning and organisational behaviours.
In autumn 2019, we ran a 4 day creative sprint to explore the brief for the museum brand identity in 2025.
Participants ranged from age 9 to 21 and included Morelands Primary School, design students from Ravensbourne University and Kingston school of Art, and creative mentors from Kessels Kramer, designers Dan Cottrell and Debbie Armstrong and cultural and heritage specialist, Catherine Holden.
The sprint concluded with a pop up exhibition of student work in Smithfield Market, with the outcomes informing the next step in the museum’s branding process.