Exhibiting Design: Art versus Industry?

By Ruth Adams.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper will consider the differing ways in which design has been exhibited and explained in design museums in London over the past century and a half, and the broader social forces which underpin such curatorial emphases. It will consider these issues through an historical examination of the acquisition and exhibition policies of both the V&A and the Design Museum. While both were ostensibly established with the intention of improving design industry and education within the UK, both also exhibited a shift in emphasis from 'industry' to 'art', from 'engineering' to 'styling'. The paper will argue that this shift can, to some extent, be attributed to a manifesting of an anti-industrial, anti-commercial bias evident in certain sections of the middle-classes since the Industrial Revolution. It will consider the implications of such an attitude for both the museums and the design profession in the UK.

Keywords: Design, Museum, V&A, Design Museum, Art, Industry

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.17-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 510.821KB).

Dr. Ruth Adams

Lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries, MA Cultural and Creative Industries, King's College, London, London, UK

I completed my doctoral thesis, entitled 'Gentlemen and Players: The Victoria and Albert Museum: An Institutional Case Study of the Culture and Society Tradition', in 2005. It focuses on the relationship between a cultural institution and the broader society of which it is a part. My current research interests include the relationship between socio-economic class and cultural choices, national identity, and popular music cultures. I am soon to embark on a study of the Royal Festival Hall and the South Bank Centre.

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