The Design Museum Announces Free Entrance Policy To permanent Collection

Design Museum

The Design Museum has announced that it will open in its new home on Kensington High Street, on 24 November this year, the result of an £83 million transformation of a listed landmark building from the 1960s. For the first time in the museum’s history it will have a free permanent display of its collection.

Acclaimed designer John Pawson is remodelling the interior of the Grade II* listed former Commonwealth Institute building, in a project that will increase the museum’s size threefold, enabling a significantly extended learning programme and a greater range of exhibitions. Studio Myerscough is designing the Designer Maker User permanent display. The museum’s visual identity has been enhanced by Fernando Gutiérrez Studio. Cartlidge Levene are creating the wayfinding and signage system. The museum’s recently relaunched multi-award winning website was created with Fabrique, in a year which also saw the Design Museum become the most followed museum in the world on Twitter. 

Highlights of the collection include: the Vespa Clubman designed by Corradino d’Ascanio and made by Piaggio; Ettore Sottsass and Perry King’s Valentine typewriter for Olivetti; Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert’s British road signs; the Sony TPS L2 Walkman designed by Nobutoshi Kihara; the Obama ‘Progress’ poster by Shepard Fairey; the GRiD ‘Compass’ the first laptop computer by Bill Moggridge; Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK47 assault rifle and Ossie Clarke and Celia Birtwell’s Paper dress.

The museum’s opening exhibitions have also been revealed. The first exhibition from the museum’s Chief Curator, Justin McGuirk, is Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World. Featuring a series of newly commissioned installations, Fear and Love is an insight into our hopes and doubts about the pace and impact of change. The flagship Designs of the Year show will return for its ninth outing.

The developer of the site, a joint venture between Chelsfield LLP and the Ilchester Estate has donated the building and land, together with the cost of refurbishing the shell and core of the building. The Heritage Lottery Fund have supported the project with a grant of £4.9 million. Arts Council England have supported the project with a capital grant of £3 million.

Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum said: ‘If you forced me to pick the single most rewarding achievement in my long design career then I would not hesitate to say founding the Design Museum in London. It was a hugely important moment for design in the UK at the time and for me personally. Since 1989 the museum has always led the way and been the first to show some of the work and inspirations of many of the most important designers and architects on the planet. Today, we are about to move from Shad Thames to new, bigger premises in Kensington, where all our dreams and ambitions to create the best and most important design museum in the world will become a step closer to reality. It will make my long lifetime in design absolutely worthwhile.’

Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum said: ‘This move will redefine the Design Museum as the most inspiring, exciting and engaging contemporary design and architecture museum in the world, with 10,000sqm of space, and a target of 650,000 visitors each year.  Design is the way to ask questions about what technology is doing to us, to explore how the world will look and work as well as to define new aesthetic approaches. The museum will have a challenging programme that encourages new work and new thinking, and the touring, digital and publications programme will take the message around the world. The museum will nurture new generations of designers and continue its history of recognising and supporting emerging design talent.’

The Design Museum’s current site in Bermondsey will close to the public on 30 June. Its final event will be Weekend Punk, a two-day celebration of the influence and legacy of punk design, which is part of the year-long Punk London festival.



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