Two and a half years later

Families at the Design Museum

Family activities at the Design Museum

This month marks the completion of the HLF activity programme.   I started in post in May 2013 and remember looking at the range and scale of what learning activity the team was launching itself with a combination of interest and awe. From starting a large scale visitor consultation to developing the learning programme for existing and new audiences the programme was ambitious.  It’s now two and a half years later and we’ve delivered on all of these aims.

A Heritage Lottery fund grant of £95,500 was awarded to enable the Learning Department to develop its offer to existing audiences and to research and reach new audiences.  This work has been preparation for the move to Kensington where a free offer, vastly expanded learning facilities and a new local community will be a transformative opportunity for the Design Museum.   The preparation for Kensington is ongoing, but as our HLF activity comes to an end we’d like to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve done in this intensive time of development.  Achievements include:

  • Established a regular drop in offer for families

  • Upgraded and redesigned the online offer to school students to address their needs

  • Refreshed the handling collection with three new collections of objects added

  • Three years of funding has been secured to work with young people, through HLF funded research and development

  • We launched  FE workshops called  Your Studio  at the museum, where 395 students took part

  • Completed an outreach project with 5 state secondary schools in Kensington, these were facilitated in partnership with Redesign

  • Development of the HE student offer including a partnership project with RCA and Imperial College and the development of a talks programme.


The end of the programme means it’s time for me to move on too so I’ve been thinking about my highlights.  One of most fascinating things for me was to be able to listen to audiences about how they experience the museum.  My colleague Rhiannon and I ran the consultation, speaking to over 100 people from different interests, from families to museum members and design teachers.

I’m interested in how to open up to culture and museums to everyone, by understanding how people experience museums, you can learn how to create those connections and the welcoming environment for visitors.  I was interested that audiences of all ages wanted to be able to touch and interact with objects, it’s not only families that enjoy a tactile experience when visiting museums. When the museum has a free offer next year more people will be able to visit, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the lessons we learned from audiences in the consultation put into practice.

One of the special things about the museum is its connections with working designers.  It’s been exciting to work with such creative people.  ReDesign with whom I worked on the schools outreach project came up with some great ideas to bring design alive for students through the theme of toys.  I enjoyed watching students in the classroom grab screwdrivers and hacksaws to enthusiastically dismantle toys to learn how they were made.

Young people at a creative event run by the Design Museum

Young Creatives event

Working with some wonderful colleagues at EPIC CIC on the youth project that we ran in Kensington was another highlight.  It was the first time the museum had worked directly with young people in Kensington. We learned a lot from the project and from the young people who took part. The young people’s re design of the space in their centre was fantastic, and memorably celebrated at an official opening with the borough’s mayor this spring.  My colleague Komal takes the programme forward after our launch event in September, attended by 65 young people Kensington and surrounding boroughs. It’s great to see the Design Museum making this long term commitment to working with local young people.

So that’s the end of my whirlwind tour.  My colleagues work continues of course so if you want to find out more just get in touch, the learning team are always ready to help.  I’m very thankful to all the people I’ve worked with over my time at the museum, and am looking forward to returning as a visitor when doors open in Kensington, see you there.

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