An interactive digital exhibition created with producers, artists and young people in lockdown.


Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Kristi Minchin, Marawa Ibrahim, School of Noise, Spotlight, Leaders in Community


UCL East and UCL Engagement | Listen and Respond

CASA Contact

Leah Lovett, Valerio Signorelli

Quick Facts

RE-Invent: Digital Pilot is an interactive digital exhibition, remotely co-created with producers, artists and young people during 2020. Using various web-based frameworks and open source libraries such as A-Frame, the team developed three digital studios for young people to explore design, movement and sound.

Researchers from Connected Environments worked with V&A senior creative producer, Helena Rice, commissioned artists, Kristi Minchin, Marawa Ibrahim and the School of Noise, and a group of 11-14 year olds connected to Tower Hamlets youth organisations, Spotlight and Leaders in Community, to imagine and realise an alternative museum space for young people, by young people in lockdown.

The online delivery of RE-Invent: Digital Pilot came about as a direct response to the pandemic and the first UK lockdown (March 2020). Connected Environments had been invited to present as part of the RE-Invent Festival planned to take place at the V&A Museum of Childhood in May 2020. With the closure of schools, universities and cultural organisations due to Covid-19, we began to explore the possibility of reimagining this engagement activity as a digital offering for the Museum of Childhood’s ‘reach’ audience of 11-14 year olds. This shift was possible thanks to the flexibility of the Listen and Respond funding scheme.

The collaborative project took place over six months, from April-October 2020, with welcome sessions, six creative workshops (two facilitated by each of the three project artists), Beta testing sessions and a launch event. A total of 19 young people, together with youth workers, creative producers and researchers joined these sessions. With the Bethnal Green-based museum closed for a major transformation project, RE-Invent Digital Pilot focussed on movement, design and sound to reflect the planned organisation of the new museum galleries.

In developing the digital studios, the use of web-based augmented reality (AR) tools enabled the researchers to respond rapidly to implement suggestions from co-creators, and also ensured the accessibility of the final app across iOS and Android operating systems. The optimisation of the app for mobile devices reflects the means by which the majority of young people participated in the workshops.

RE-Invent Digital Pilot invited collaboration from artist practitioners during a period when many creative opportunities were disappearing due to the pandemic. The project also became an experimental space for the commissioned artists to adapt their practice to digital engagement with audiences.

“This has been a solid process of that – workshopping then executing it right through to the end… Like the blue-print of how these things can work, and how we can apply our skills and share them differently online.” (Marawa Ibrahim, project artist)

One of our key aims was to explore opportunities for co-creating digital interactive experiences online from concept through to completion.

The starting position was that every participant had a meaningful contribution to make in developing RE-Invent: Digital Pilot.

“Making them [the young people] part of the process was crucial to it, not tokenistic. For me, making something, having time to see a project all the way through felt important. So often, I’m just doing the one hour workshop thing and then leaving. This was a chance to concentrate on one thing and then finish it and now it’s a tool people can use.” (Dan Mayfield, project artist)

When we shared the Beta version of the app with the young people and their critical friends, they had many ideas on how we could grow and alter the platform. These suggestions ranged from granular, functional changes, to removing double taps, to adding ongoing updates to keep users engaged. Their feedback also reflected the power of co-creation as a model for witnessing the impact of their contributions.

“I learnt how to make ideas into a reality.” (Young Ambassador)

“I learnt that contributing is a big thing.” (Young Ambassador)

The project led to the creation of the new role of Young Ambassador, through which the young people who participated in RE-Invent: Digital Pilot will continue to contribute to the development of the museum in Bethnal Green, London.

Find Out More

RE-Invent: Digital Pilot was presented as part of the Critical Digital Art History: Interface and Data Politics in exhibitions, museums and collections panel at the annual conference of the Association of Art Historians (online).

The project and process of digital co-creation has been featured in a series of blog posts for the V&A Museum, UCL East, Backchannels, and Connected Environments.

RE-Invent: Digital Pilot was also the subject of a public lunch hour lecture for UCL East.