DesignLab project with ceramicist James Rigler and students from Alperton Community School, 2014, (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A unveils education programme for schools

Simon Stephens, 05.05.2017
Initiative will be funded with Art Fund Museum of the Year prize money
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) will launch a programme to support art and design education in secondary schools.

The scheme, called DesignLab Nation, will be funded using the £100,000 the museum received for winning the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016. 

DesignLab Nation has evolved from a plan announced by former V&A director Martin Roth, who has since been replaced by Tristram Hunt, to revive the museum’s Circulation Department. This scheme sent touring exhibitions to museums and art schools across the UK until 1977, when the service was stopped because of government cuts.

“In Martin Roth’s acceptance speech when the V&A was announced as the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016, he pledged to share the prize with museums and galleries across the country,” said a V&A spokeswoman.

“Following consultation with colleagues internally and externally, we wanted to develop a truly collaborative project with the partners we will work with. DesignLab Nation revives the spirit of the old Circulation Department by sharing V&A objects with partners around the UK, but additionally aims to work with teachers and local industry to help revive art and design education in secondary schools.”

DesignLab, which the V&A will launch in September, will focus on 11-16 year olds. It will support the new Design and Technology GCSE and bring together secondary schools, museums and local design practices.

The first year of the programme will feature Culture Coventry, which is responsible for the Herbert Museum & Art Gallery and Coventry Transport Museum, and Blackburn Museum. It will then be extended to Sheffield and two additional locations in the following academic year.
The Art Fund Museum of the Year prize money will cover the pilot year and support the following two years of the programme for which the V&A will seek to fundraise the additional amount required.

“The V&A has a responsibility to protect and promote design education for the future," Hunt said. “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.”