Established as the Design Collection in 1988, the collection was awarded registered museum status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2001. It changed its name to the Museum of Design in Plastics in September 2007 to reflect the decision to focus on plastics and became the UK’s only fully accredited plastics museum in September 2008. It is now acknowledged as the UK’s leading resource for the study and interpretation of design in plastics.
MoDiP aims to increase understanding and appreciation of the use and significance of plastics in design and holds around 10,000 objects of 20th and 21stC mass-produced design and popular culture. Collections of direct relevance to the Histories of Home SSN include:
- Audio Visual: comprising radios, televisions, record players, records, personal stereos, tape recorders and projectors.
- Electrical: including vacuum cleaners, kettles, coffee makers, teasmades, food mixers, irons, hairdryers, heaters and toasters.
- Domestic: including thermos flasks, soda syphons, kitchen equipment, carpet sweepers etc.
- Lighting: this includes a range of light shades, lamps and torches.
- Printed Ephemera: including trade catalogues, club flyers, jeans labels, post cards and visitor guides.
- Packaging: a wide range of British and foreign packaging including a large collection of carrier bags.
- Calculators and Computers: a range of examples from the 1970’s onward, including adding machines.
- Telecommunications: a collection of telephones and related items including a selection of mobile phones.
A significant part of the MoDiP collection is housed on the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) website, an online gateway to digitised collections of visual materials in archives and special collections. Access to artefacts not on display is provided on request.
MoDiP’s collecting policy
MoDiP’s objective is to build a nationally significant representative collection of, and research resource on, the use and significance of plastics in design. To this end, to qualify for inclusion an item must meet two criteria: one relating to plastics and the other to its design, use or documentation.
1) To meet the plastics related criteria an object must conform to one of the following:
- be made entirely of plastic
- have plastic components which are vital to its form or function
- provide information on the manufacture, marketing or reception of plastic products
2) To mee the additional criteria, it must conform to one of the following:
- be innovative in design
- provide insight into the society of which it was a part
- be documented in such a way that it adds to plastics’ history
MoDip currently leads the Plastics Subject Specialist Network (SSN), which encourages and enables the sharing of knowledge, expertise and collections with the aim of improving museum visitor experience. For a list of active SSNs, visit the Arts Council’s SSN page.
The next Plastics SSN event will take place on 1st March at the Boilerhouse in Grantham – for further details please see this post.