Public views of NPG’s Reaching Out, Drawing In


Reaching Out, Drawing In was a key part of the National Portrait Gallery’s education and outreach work. Taking place over a 3-year period, the project sought to enhance the learning potential of the Gallery.

Using a series of six exhibitions in the Studio Gallery as a focus for working with new audiences, the project was delivered through a series of community partnerships. Each of the exhibitions arose directly from work with the identified community groups. The aim was for the exhibitions to be accessible and promoted to all Gallery users. I was asked to investigate the public visitors’ responses to and perceptions of the different exhibitions in the programme.


I ran a series of focus groups with visitors to each of the exhibitions including people from the communities involved (Chinese community, elders groups, youth groups, travellers, family audiences), as well as analysing the feedback gathered in comments books. I also trained volunteers and staff to conduct mini-questionnaires and reviewed primary research undertaken in the first of the project phases, conducted prior to my involvement.


The findings from my evaluation were fed back to the gallery, with recommended changes and improvements to delivery, exhibitions, activities and wider facilities being enacted during the life of the programme and beyond, such as greater -in-gallery activities for children and all ages, varied labelling styles and more open information given in exhibitions and displays.


April 2005-December 2007


“I found Rachel’s level of professionalism and commitment to the work meant that we were able to get best value from the focus groups. The results were presented in such a way that the information is easy to refer to and use.”