The Best Design Museums Around the World
Many design museums were founded to show collections of applied arts or decorative arts and started only in the late 20th century to collect design. Nowadays, there are more and more great exhibition dedicated solely to the field of design. In our new blogpost we would like to point out a few of the world’s best design museums to give you an idea of this great pool.
Located in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, V&A is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. It was founded in 1852 in honor of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The museum’s collections are unrivalled in their diversity, including the permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. In the recent past, the museum has housed some blockbuster exhibitions, such as the amazing ‘David Bowie is’ and or the ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ venues. Check out the list of current exhibitions here. One more great feature: it is admission free!
The museum itself is designed by Walter Gropius, the very founder of the hugely influential Bauhaus school of architecture, art and design. Within its holdings, visitors can find a myriad of inspirational paintings, drawings, sculptures and models. It brings you a dose of history and also a taste of the present in one of the artsiest cities in Europe. The Bauhaus School was always more than just an art school. Exploring the relationship between fine art and craftsmanship, Gropius emphasized the fusion of form and function that would become the Bauhaus trademark. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus founding in 2019, the archive will be expanding with a new building. The present exhibition showcases the winning architectural design and the other prize-winning designs.
Part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, this is the only museum in the country that’s dedicated to both historic and contemporary design. It is also the home of the National Design Awards. The collection is housed in the 64-room mansion built by billionaire Andrew Carnegie in 1901. An extensive three-year renovation, completed in 2014, brings novelty to its exhibitions with interactive touch screens and up-to-date technology. Check out its current venues here. Admission: 16 USD
Built in 1895 to a neo-Renaissance design by Adriaan Willem Weissman, the Stedelijk Museum is Amsterdam’s main museum for modern art, contemporary art, and design. The 21st century wing with the current entrance was designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South. Find the list of current exhibitions here. Admission: 15 EUR
Design Museum Holon opened in March 2010 and had quickly established itself as one of the world’s leading museums of design and contemporary culture. The museum hosts annually shifting exhibitions featuring some of the top international works of design in furniture, jewelry, architecture and more. Built at a cost of around $18 million, the iconic building is designed by the internationally acclaimed, London-based architect Ron Arad, and it was also his first public building in his homeland. Arad’s split-level museum is a pair of geometric display spaces together with a “design lab” — studio space for working creatives. Check what’s on view here. Admission: 35 NIS
As its first speciality, the museum is located in the center of Toronto’s Financial District, in one of Canada’s Art Deco landmarks, which is actually the historic old home of the Toronto Stock Exchange. The DX is Canada’s only museum dedicated to the pursuit of design excellence and the preservation of design heritage. The permanent collection includes more than 1000 Canadian pieces that span six decades. See here what is on at the moment. Admission: 10 USD
The Design Museum in Helsinki is 142 years old and one of the oldest in the world (although predated by the V&A). It is located in the Kaarti section of central Helsinki in the former building of the Brobergska Samskolan high school (architect Gustav Nyström 1895). From the museum’s home page there is a free access to several web exhibitions on Finnish design, such as exhibition about the Arabia Factory, Marimekko and designers Kaj Franck and Oiva Toikka. Check out its current venues here.
Admission: 10 EUR
The VDM is a privately owned museum for design in Weil am Rhein, Germany, close to the point at which the Swiss, French and German borders meet. It is dedicated to the research and presentation of design, past and present, and examines design’s relationship to architecture, art and everyday culture. In the main museum building by Frank Gehry, the museum annually mounts two major temporary exhibitions. Smaller parallel shows are presented in the Vitra Design Museum Gallery, a neighboring exhibition space. List of current shows here. Admission: 10 EUR
The mission of the MAD is to collect, display, and interpret objects that document contemporary and historic innovation in craft, art, and design. The Museum first opened its doors in 1956 as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, with an original mission of recognizing the craftsmanship of contemporary American artists. Nurtured by the vision of philanthropist and craft patron Aileen Osborn Webb, the Museum mounted exhibitions that focused on the materials and techniques associated with craft disciplines. Check here what is currently on view. Admission: 16 USD
The exhibition program includes whatever is effective as “design”. The main thematic areas are design, visual communication and architecture. Between five and seven temporary exhibitions annually as well as smaller presentations and interventions in and around the museum explain the way in which designed objects and images are dealt with, provide information about personalities in the field of design or about those areas of design that shape our everyday lives. Graphic and applied arts dominate the permanent collections. Check the list of current exhibitions here. Admission: 12 SFR
Hope you liked our selection. If you happen to visit one of the above mentioned cities, do not forget to add the design museum to your must-see list.