About Designerly Learning

Designerly Learning is the blog of the learning team at the Design Museum, London.

It’s an exciting time for Learning, as we prepare for the new Design Museum, due to open at the end of 2016 in the former Commonwealth Institute in Holland Park. In the meantime we’re delivering a busy, live programme at the current site on Shad Thames, alongside developing audiences and future programmes for the new museum as part of our HLF funded Activity Plan for Learning and Participation.

We hope Designerly Learning will be a shared reflective space for cultural learning peers, design educators of every stripe and all others who share our interest in the role and value of design education in the museum context.

In this blog you’ll be hearing from Dr Helen Charman, Head of Learning, and the rest of the learning team.  Our learning committee, headed by Sir Christopher Frayling, will also be posting.  We’ll be inviting guest bloggers too, from young designers in residence at the museum to thinkers and educators who inspire our work.

Design Museum – The Story So Far


Thirty years ago, Sir Terence Conran established the Boilerhouse at the Victoria & Albert Museum. He wanted to put design at the centre of contemporary culture and a series of hugely popular exhibitions revealed that design is so much more than style. It’s a compelling blend of common sense, engineering, entrepreneurialism and creativity. The Boilerhouse rapidly outgrew its basement, and the Design Museum moved to a converted banana warehouse in London’s Shad Thames.

Since then, it has helped shape understanding of design of every kind. It has welcomed five million visitors including 250,000 school children, staged over a hundred exhibitions, established a pioneering education programme and built an ever-expanding permanent collection of design landmarks.

There is now an opportunity to expand and build a Design Museum for the 21st Century: the relocation to the former Commonwealth Institute on London’s Kensington High Street. This modern landmark from the 1960s, a grade II* listed building, has stood vacant for a decade and will now be carefully remodelled by John Pawson.

The new home of the Design Museum is expected to open in 2016. It will offer three times more exhibition space, vastly improved learning facilities and a dedicated gallery to display the museum’s permanent collection. It will be the world’s leading museum of contemporary design and architecture, an international showcase for the many design skills at which Britain excels and a creative hub promoting innovation and nurturing the next generation of design talent.


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