Inaugural director Stephen Bayley described the Design Museum on Shad Thames in its formative days as the ‘rebellious offspring of the V&A’. The notion of the rebellious museum is an intriguing one in the current moment of political turmoil and in the context of the Museum Association’s focus on the social value of museums. Museums are places for creative, critical and communal expression, for a productive and inclusive exchange of ideas and fresh thinking. Something of the spirit of rebellion was reinvigorated in Weekend Punk which celebrated our closing weekend for the museum on Shad Thames on June 25/26, This public event was part of the wider Punk London festival generously supported by the HLF and organised by the GLA. The place was abuzz with the spirit of creative and critical provocation in a political context in which post Brexit passions ran high and it gave a much needed expressive outlet for all – a diverse audience of young and old punks, design geeks and curious families.
Many colleagues, partners and volunteers worked incredibly hard to make this weekend happen and this blog post is a heartfelt thank you to them. It was a fantastic museum wide effort by teams across the piece – Café, Communications, Curatorial, Collections and Archive, Learning, Retail and Visitor Experience. It’s hard to pick out highlights as the whole programme was so energising – a display in the tank of iconic punk sleeve design from 1976 to 1984 and a punk piñata for the young and the young at heart, punk cocktails courtesy of W-Hotel, a brilliant archive display from Jamie Reid’s archive including some of the most visually identifiable punk designs of the era Brody Associates who ran a Zine making day for our Young Creatives and were a key element of our Create and Make activities, LCC’s Design Activism Group who led a massive graphic design fanzine workshop and Rough Trade’s Saturday selection including emerging bands Fews and Institute and talks from Viv Goldman and the legendary Brix Smith. Our Young Creatives captured the weekend and the punk piñata will feature in the GLA’s celebratory film. The museum archive will be all the richer for a selection of fanzines and placards from this moment in the museum’s history.
We closed our doors on Shad Thames at 5.45pm on Thursday June 30th 2016 and will reopen at 10am on 24 November 2016 in our new site on High Street Kensington . Toasting our last visitors to Shad Thames was a poignant and celebratory moment. In true can-do museum style, we had been decanting and decluttering for the preceding month whilst delivering a busy onsite programme . In our closing weeks, we launched Design School – the Future of the Project, an AHRC funded international research series summit in partnership with Lancaster University and Charles Sturt University, Sydney and the subject of an upcoming post, and Design Ventura 2016, our flagship project on design and enterprise for 14-16 year olds. Over the interim weekend our amazing Project and IT teams worked hard to get us all set up and on Monday 4 July we took up residence in our office in the new site! Having worked on the Design Museum Kensington project since 2011, Monday morning was a spectacularly exciting moment. Now we’re firmly ensconced in the new building, and driving forward planning towards opening the museum in November, a museum that needs to be relevant, creative and even a bit rebellious – keeping the spirit of Weekend Punk alive. Watch this space!