Five design collections

  • 14 November 2013

To celebrate the opening of Hello, My Name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum, we’ve chosen five of our favourite design collections across the UK, from Arts and Crafts pioneers to inspiring metalwork.

1. V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), London
50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

Design and technology played a starring role in the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the Museum of Manufactures founded with the profits would go on to be the world’s largest museum of design and the decorative arts. Now called the V&A, it counts over 4.5 million objects in its expansive holdings, ranging from architecture to graphic design in collections encompassing the full breadth and history of applied and industrial design.

2. Court Barn Museum, Gloucestershire
Free entry with National Art Pass

In 1902 the designer and entrepreneur Charles Robert Ashbee moved his Guild and School of Handicraft from London to the town of Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, immediately establishing Gloucestershire as a global centre of the Arts and Crafts movement. Court Barn tells the story of design and applied arts in the area through objects crafted by Ashbee and his followers, including a butterfly pendant bought in 2013 with help from the Art Fund.

3. The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Staffordshire
Free entry to all

As well as being home to the Staffordshire Hoard, the Potteries houses an unrivalled collection of pottery and porcelain, both from Stoke-on-Trent and further afield. The museum’s displays lead visitors through the story of Staffordshire’s world-famous ceramic design industry, complimented by exceptional holdings of pottery from East Asia and objects exploring the area’s heritage, from a locally designed Spitfire to natural history collections.

4. William Morris Gallery, London
Free entry to all

Author, entrepreneur, political activist, businessmen, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement – William Morris was many things, but today he is best remembered as a pioneering designer who changed the course of the decorative and industrial arts in Britain. Situated in the building where Morris lived between 1848 and 1856, the Museum of the Year 2013 charts the development of Morris’s designs from early textiles to the foundation of his own publishing house, the Kelmscott Press.

5. Millennium Gallery, Sheffield
Free entry to all

From the invention of the crucible technique in the 1740s to the development of high-strength steels in the late 20th century, innovations in metalworking have made Sheffield a centre of global industry for almost 300 years. The Millennium Gallery is home to a pre-eminent collection of metalwork, featuring 13,000 objects representing the best in industrial design, inspired by – and inspiring – makers and manufacturers in South Yorkshire.


Hello, My Name is Paul Smith is at the Design Museum until 9 March 2014.

Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleriesGreat days out