V&A Announces DesignLab Nation National Programme To Support Design Education

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) have announced DesignLab Nation, a national programme to support design education for 11 to 16-year-olds, working with regional museums. It will use the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 prize money to fund an ambitious national schools programme, DesignLab Nation, to help revive art and design education in secondary schools.  

The V&A has a responsibility to protect and promote design education for the future – Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A

From Bauhaus to Bowie, Mackintosh to McQueen, the V&A’s collections and exhibitions celebrate the great heritage of design and making in Britain and around the world. Launching in September 2017, the V&A’s DesignLab Nation programme will target 11-16-year-olds in predominantly industrial areas, bringing together secondary schools in partnership with local museums and regional creative industries to inspire students, train teachers and preserve the essential role that Art, Design and Technology play in education for young people. The V&A’s pilot programme is designed to help support the new Design and Technology GSCE, beginning this September.

Working with Culture Coventry – Herbert Museum & Art Gallery, and Coventry Transport Museum – and Blackburn Museum in the first year starting this September, the programme will expand to Sheffield and two additional locations in the following academic year.  Loans from the V&A’s collections, to be selected in consultation with project partners, will complement the programme and ensure that all visitors to the partner museums have the chance to experience the V&A’s collections, first-hand in the context of their local history and creative clusters.

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “At a time when the creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest national and economic assets, we want to inspire and support students and teachers as the new Design and Technology GSCE arrives this autumn. The V&A has a responsibility to protect and promote design education for the future. By bringing together local industry, museums and schools, DesignLab Nation will ensure that the V&A delivers on our founding purpose, to educate and inspire the artists, innovators, designers and creatives of tomorrow.”

V&A Sculpture Hall

V&A Sculpture Hall

Each DesignLab Nation partnership will be delivered by specialists and professionals from local design practices, working closely with a local museum which will act as a ‘hub’ for these in-depth secondary school projects.  The partnership will deliver three DesignLab projects per area per year – 36 in total over the three years – and will focus on inspiring creativity amongst the next generation of designers.

The V&A will lend its collections, help recruit schools and design practitioners, develop each project with the local museum and provide a comprehensive programme of training and professional development for teachers.  The programme will contribute to high-quality design education for Key Stage 3 and 4 students at a time when the UK is looking for the next generation of creative designers and innovators to build its world-class creative industries.

The V&A’s DesignLab Nation will encourage young people to make their own contemporary responses to historical processes and to gain an understanding of how collections from the past can inform new ideas. Skills will also be shared among partners throughout the programme, and over 1,000 students, 250+ teachers and regional museum staff involved in the projects will be invited to the V&A in London as part of the DesignLab Nation project. Creative Quarter, the V&A’s annual careers’ festival for school pupils, will also provide an opportunity with each autumn to showcase the DesignLab Nation programme.

With 2.3 million objects and 19 national collections, the V&A lends more objects to more museums than any other national museum in the UK. DesignLab Nation builds on the V&A’s widespread activity across the UK, with a focus on addressing a skills gap in the area of design and technology.


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