Last week, the London Design Museum was re-opened in its new location on High Street Kensington, where it is now located in the unique landmark of a Grade II 1960s listed building. Previously located in Shad Thames, the museum made the move in order to accommodate a greater selection of art and design technology. Through creating such an opportunity for change and improvement, they may successfully meet the passions and desires of design fans across the world.
Having been vacant for the previous decade, the building required much consideration and imagination when the time came to move, and the story of the renovation and re-opening echoes back to 2008 when the relocation process was initiated. Working with John Pawson on the interior, OMA for the overall plan and Allies and Morrison for the external refurbishment, the museum opened last week with three times the space of the previous location.
The new location may bring more than space and a desirable location, also providing its own design aesthetics and features. The museum and its associates have predicted in the first year alone, it may welcome over 500,000 visitors and 50,000 learners. It also may now provide a permanent collection on display which is complimentary to visitors, enabling followers of the design scene of all backgrounds to feasibly visit and explore parts of the museum.
The aims of the museum in its new location may extend beyond the display of art to the understanding and presentation of it within society. Citing their mission as one of education and evaluation surrounding art and design, the museum aims to bring innovation and imagination to an already stimulating art form. By moving to their new location, the Design Museum may be able to achieve this through the wider opportunities and the consequently attainable wider demographic.
In addition to installations and exhibits, the museum may also implement a variety of activities and events in order to engage visitors with the art form, such as competitions and workshops, such as those advertised upon the museums Twitter page. These events may extend beyond seasoned designers and advocates, also aiming to attract younger audiences, schools and families in the coming years with events such as their regular “create and make” sessions, which aim to give families and young people the chance to gain skills and bond for free.
The preliminary exhibition from the museums chief curator, Justin McGuirk was “Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World”, which aims to continue to run through to April, and chronicles the contemporary world and human reactions to change. The free installation, which is a new scheme to the Design Museum, is titled Design Maker User, and consists of crowdsourced consumer goods which are suggested and donated by the public via the museum’s website.
Some things have also been carried across from the previous location and style, such as the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition, which may now be in its ninth year. The aims of the display are to expose and celebrate design which “promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice of captures the spirit of the year.” In continuing a celebrated and productive exhibition such as this, the museum may be able to continue attracting previous admirers as well as accessing new visitors with the new facilities.
Whilst moves such as this may provide challenges in terms of funding and functionality, it appears the decision was made with the integrity and essence of the museum in mind, focusing their efforts on creating a diverse and intriguing space for designers and fans alike to express themselves and their passions.
How may moving art institutions such as this to new locations provide new opportunities?