Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Bored, Games!

Board games are just the thing to stop us from getting bored during self-isolation. Here are some classics from the museum’s collections. 
This gaming piece (AIBDC : 006889.1) offers 2 for 1: chess on one side, draughts on the other. Made 50 years ago using moulds from the 1850s, the material is Gutta Percha, a resin extracted from Malaysian trees.

Image ref: This side of the piece depicts a mitre, representing the bishop in a game of chess.
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Solitaire (AIBDC : 005531) – everyone’s favourite time waster? Dating back 280 years, this popular game is now mostly played online but our pocket version dates to the 1960s. The pegs are made from injection moulded high-impact polystyrene (HIPS).

Image ref: I inherited one of these from my sister and played with it all the time when I was a child.
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A ‘Shop 'til you drop’ game (AIBDC : 004866) – essential items only! A roll of the dice tells you what to put in or take out, but overload and the trolley collapses. A twist on the classic Buckaroo – fun for all made possible with plastics.

Image ref: I love all the various items you can ‘buy’ including a skateboard, a hamburger and even a pair of underpants!
Image credit:

Dominoes (AIBDC : 005726) originated in China in the 13th century, first appearing in Europe 500 years later as the game we recognise today. This set dates to 1913 and is made from ebonite, a hardened rubber that gives a high-gloss finish, resembling lacquer.

Image ref: The world record for domino toppling is just under 4.5 million fallen tiles, set by a Dutch team in 2009.

Master Mind (AIBDC : 004634). A code-breaking game invented in the 1970s by an Israeli postmaster and manufactured by Invicta Plastics. The board and shield are made from high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) whilst the pegs are made from polypropylene. The MoDiP version is French with a different photo on the cover to the one I had as a child.

Image ref: It is suggested Master Mind may have been developed from an earlier paper-based game called Cows and Bulls.

Image ref: My cover featured a Leicester University student standing behind a local businessman, called in when the pre-booked male model failed to turn up. The image was recreated in 2003. 

You can look at more toys and games in MoDiP’s collections here.

Katherine Pell, Collections Officer.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

New Art Fund Grant for MoDiP

We are pleased to announce that in our role as convener of the Plastics SSN (PSSN), and jointly with the Dress and Textiles Specialists (DATS), we have been successful with our grant application for MoDiP for £14,500 towards Art Fund’s ‘Network grants’ scheme. The project runs from May 2020 to April 2022.

Detail from a dress made from a flocked but unspecified synthetic material. 
It is typical of the kind of objects the project will enable us to research.

The grant is for creating a resource that will share research, promote best practice, and build museum staff skills and confidence in a significant but neglected subject area: garments made from synthetic materials for example viscose, Terylene™ and Lycra™. Its purpose is to equip museum staff with the knowledge and confidence to engage the public with these collections. The partnership will combine expertise in traditional state-of-the-art curatorial care for garments with an understanding of the complex needs of this materials group.

The project has three components:
  • Sharing of recent research, knowledge and good practice relating to synthetic garments at four expert workshops at museums with complementary collections.
  • Co-development of a unique online toolkit based on information gathered at the workshops.  
  •  Two workshops for grassroots members of both networks to introduce the toolkit and provide evaluation.

The expert workshops will be small, focused and participatory. Each will take the same format with two 30 minute presentations, one by a guest speaker sharing specialist expertise and the other by the curator focused on issues raised by the host's collection. These will be followed by in depth discussions of at least 10 objects, sourced from the hosts’ and delegates' collections, in real or digital form, depending on their vulnerability. Discussion, led by each object's curator, will focus on care, preventive conservation, documentation and interpretation.

Detail of another dress made with unidentified synthetic material.

The toolkit will bring together a collection of 40 objects selected from those discussed, supplemented as necessary to provide a balanced representation of the subject from high fashion to sportswear.  Versions of the toolkit will be available both on the DATS website: and on the PSSN microsite:

The grassroots workshops will provide supportive training environments for members of both networks. As well as providing a CPD opportunity, especially for those who prefer a more active method of engagement, the workshops will provide evaluation on the prototype toolkit.

The application was submitted just before the full impact of Covid-19 was completely apparent. Our original intention was to hold the workshops at four venues across the country at three-month intervals starting in the autumn. However with museums now closed for the foreseeable future this schedule may need to be revised. This project is centred on people getting together, looking closely at museum objects and discussing them face-to-face. It is hard to see quite how else we can make it work, however, as we are still six months away from when we hoped to hold the first workshop, maybe by then ‘a new normal’ will have been created which will make it feasible. 

Detail of a skirt made from 35% polyester and 65% polyurethane. 
It is unusual to know so much about the material. Research into the object may help us learn more about other less well documented objects in the collection.

We would like to thank the Art Fund. Their aim network grants  provide funding to support Subject Specialist Networks (SSNs) in sharing expertise across the museum sector, for the benefit of collections and audiences.  The process has been refreshingly straightforward with staff members on hand throughout the process to discuss the application and provide advice.  We would also like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who is interested in being involved with the project to get in touch by emailing

Professor Susan Lambert, Chief Curator, MoDiP

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

International Museum Day

Monday 18th May 2020 is International Museum Day, an event that has been running since 1977 with the objective of raising awareness that museums are an important agency for cultural exchange. Last year 37,000 museums across the world participated in this celebration from 158 different countries and territories. This year’s theme is ‘Museums for equality: diversity and inclusion’.
In light of recent events here in the UK, MoDiP is not physically open at present but we are trying to maintain our online presence in these difficult times. We had hoped to mark International Museum Day with a series of activities in the museum to share with our multi-cultural community at AUB. As this is not now possible, we thought we would use this blog instead to feature some of the museum objects that have inspired our students, past and present, illustrating our belief that design in plastics has no boundaries and is for everyone.

Heida Jonsdottir (Iceland), BA (Hons) Fashion

Object chosen: Jelly plate, 
AIBDC : 006877

As I walked into the MoDiP museum, one particular thing caught my eye. A beautifully crafted, semi-transparent bowl with flowing features and a blueish hue. I returned a few times to the museum, but I was always drawn to this bowl. The pattern of the bowl and its blue colour reminds me of water, with one exception: water is chaotic, unpredictable and irregular while the pattern of the bowl is consistent and systematic. Maybe, the reason I am drawn to it is that I relate to it, a highly organised and systematic person studying something as chaotic as art. It made me wonder if I could achieve the same flowing shapes in my work, in garments as the shapes in the bowl, so I decided to try to make a pattern that would make the fabric behave similarly.
Garments representing the feel and movement of the Jelly plate, designed in Clo3D, a pattern cutting and virtual prototyping system

Dorine Bessière (France), MA Commercial Photography
Object chosen: Disposable cutlery, AIBDC : 007041

Plastic made of oil is a great invention by being cheap, flexible, friendly and very solid…but it is also a pollutant material, very difficult to recycle, and creates many environmental issues. For my project, I decided to focus on plastic consumption. Have you ever thought about how many toothbrushes you have bought and how many you will throw away in your life?

I selected to photograph a range of disposable objects from our everyday life that are manufactured, bought, used and thrown away in mass quantities. By accumulating them in pictures I wanted to awaken the viewer's eye and mind.

Using Photoshop software, I cut out each object in order to create different repetitive patterns.

Yudit Lee (Korea), BA (Hons) Modelmaking 

Object chosen: 
Valentine typewriter, AIBDC : 005603

As a final major project for my 3rd year, I choose to make a 2/3rd scale product model of the Olivetti Valentine Typewriter, designed by Ettore Sottsass. I was fascinated by the bright red colour of the typewriter: when I first saw it in MoDiP, I couldn’t take my eyes off it! The innovative design has the power to instantly brighten the mood of the room and grab everyone’s attention. 

Using CAD software, Fusion 360, I modelled the typewriter to produce technical drawings. I then used different machinery and techniques, such as the lathe, CNC router and 3D printing, to produce the product model, shown here with all the componentry laid out before final assembly

Image ref: Yudit Lee

Hirunkorn Nikornsaen (Thailand)MA Illustration

Object chosen: Packing tape basket, AIBDC : 005742

I saw the plastic shopping basket on display in the museum and it reminded me of the way we use it in Thailand, which is my home country. It’s a Thai pop traditional basket and is made from recycled plastic straps. We weave them together. We, the Thai people, only use this basket for grocery shopping at the fresh market in Thailand. I produced an illustration to show how we use it in Thailand, in the local lifestyle.

AUB Illustration students were asked to create a piece of work in response to an artefact in the museum. 

Jak Hansford (Britain)MA Fine Art

Object chosen: Eve fruit bowl, AIBDC : 006731

My choice of objects had mundane functions but innovative shape and form within their design. I found this a bit tricky as in the past I have focused on the mundane and then redesigned. The fact that these items have existing design quality meant it would be more exciting to push how I think or see them differently.
My final piece showcased the energetic and playful attributes that the artefacts I chose hold. While I started focusing on one MoDiP object at a time, the project developed, and I began seeing the potential of the objects together and intermingled especially through collage. The still life imagery I created could offer more than my singular drawings could. By this I mean the space around and interaction between each object and how this provides intrigue and interest.
The final piece, 180cm x 40cm, is one of the biggest tufted works I have ever produced. 
Image ref:

If you are interested in accessing MoDiP’s collections to inspire your own research, you can still use our images during this period of closure. Please credit them to 'Museum of Design in Plastics, Arts University Bournemouth' and we would love to hear from you to find out what you have done and which objects you have chosen. 
MoDiP's catalogue can be viewed online and our Residencies and Inspiring case studies illustrate a variety of ways in which others have used the collection as a resource for creative inspiration and object-based learning.

Katherine Pell, Collections Officer.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Closing the museum for lockdown

On receiving notice that the AUB campus would be closing from 5pm on Friday 20th March 2020, in line with the Government’s country-wide lockdown for COVID-19the MoDiP team had only a few days to get the museum organised. We had just completed the installation of our latest exhibition, Being me: plastics and the body, which had not even been opened to visitors at that point.  
The first task was to remove from display any vulnerable plasticsie. objects made from cellulose nitratecellulose acetatepolyvinyl chloridepolyurethane, or any of the rubber-based plastics like gutta percha. This left several empty shelves in the display cases (see image below). 

Image credit: MoDiP Image reference: Gaps in the plastics timeline of our About Plastics display.

The next job was to remove any objects on display in the tank cases, situated outside the museum, within the AUB library. This was important because this space is not environmentally controlled for the museum objects (which is why we limit object display time here). The temperature and humidity are determined by the heating within the library - which would be turned off for the duration - and even though overhead lighting would not be a problem (also turned off), there is still natural sunlight coming into the space. 

Image credit: MoDiP Image reference: Empty cases in the library corridor. 

Within the museum, any objects on display that are particularly fragile were then either returned to their storage locations or wrapped and supported with acid-free tissue paper in situ. At that stage we had no idea how long the lockdown would continue for.

Image credit: MoDiP Image reference: Objects wrapped in acid-free tissue paper in the display cases. 

Finally, any objects being worked on that did not yet have a permanent storage location needed to be covered, again using acid-free tissue paper. This provides protection from dust and is a barrier against potential deterioration due to the effects of temperature, humidity and light etc.

Image credit: MoDiP Image reference: Objects in the store, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper. 

When all this was completed, we said goodbye to the objects (and each other), unplugged the computers, turned off the lights, locked the door and, rather anxiously, left the building. 

Since then the MoDiP team have all been very busy working from home, maintaining the museum’s online presence and keeping in touch through virtual meetings (I love to see inside everyone’s houses). 

I have been allowed access into the museum for one hour at the beginning of each month in order to check over everything and to download the readings from our data loggers (the Home Office have confirmed this is permissible and huge thanks to the AUB Facilities and Security team for making this possible) 

Whilst our objects are quite familiar with being left in a dark, stable environment for long periodsit is important to check that all of the monitoring systems are working properly and that there are no problemsGoing into the empty museum has been an unusual experience but we are currently formulating plans to re-open safely when restrictions are eased. Until then, stay safe and hope to see you again soon. 

Image credit: Image reference: Keep smiling. 

Katherine Pell, Collections Officer.