Design Objects and The Museum

Design Objects and The Museum

by Liz Farrelly

Liz Farrelly writes and edits books and articles on design and visual culture, with stints on staff at Blueprint and Eye magazines and Booth-Clibborn Editions. She teaches at University of Brighton, UK and her current research about museums and design focuses on London’s Design Museum. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and Joanna Weddell

Joanna Weddell has a background in architecture and is currently researching post-war design and museology at the Research Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the University of Brighton, UK; she also teaches History of Art. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2016
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-4742-6882-0 (online)

    978-1-4725-7723-8 (hardback)

    978-14725-7722-1 (paperback)

    978-14725-7724-5 (epdf)

    978-14725-7725-2 (epub)
  • Edition:
    First published
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  • Published Online:
Design Objects and The Museum
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Design Objects and the Museum brings together leading design historians, curators, educators and archivists drawing on a wide range of 20th century and contemporary examples from international museums to consider how contemporary design objects have been curated and displayed within and beyond the museum.

Current government agendas on culture and education may stress global competition but should high quality design objects be preserved as reified cultural products, or, alternatively, studied as examples of industrial process? Does contemporary design, which is often ephemeral or ‘process-based’, stretch or strain the collecting and display procedures of the museum? And, in a world of multiple choices, is there still a need for the museum to promote ‘good design’ to the public?

The volume begins with the post-war context for design initiatives and exhibitions and continues to the contemporary scene, providing historical perspective on material culture and assessing current developments and trends. The first section relates to the notion of the ‘canon’ of art history and, by implication, museological practice and issues that arise when placing design within museums, progressing through post-war concepts of ‘good design’ to design today. Section 2 discusses the positioning of contemporary design within and beyond the art gallery, national museum, commercial space and design museum, extending debates about design versus art. The final section examines the challenges presented by contemporary design to interpretation and learning in the museum, and the role of curators, exhibition designers and visitors in shaping experience and creating meaning