Wednesday, 21 October 2020

#MoDiPDiversity

Inspired by Black History Month, we decided to review our collection with regards to diversity.  Many museums have done similar activities, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, highlighting objects that have been looted from indigenous peoples or that celebrate the work and achievement of slave owners or those that benefited from the slave trade.

I am happy to say that the MoDiP collection does not suffer from containing objects that are so controversial.  However, our review showed us that the objects in our collection do not represent many (if any) black, Asian or minority ethnic designers.

MoDiP collects objects, first and foremost, because of what they are, how they function, and what they look like.  We have a collection development policy which can be found on our website,  but in essence all objects in the MoDiP collection relate in some way to our plastics focus.  In addition, they conform to one of three other criteria:

  • To be an interesting design
  • To provide insight into the society of which they are a part, or
  • To be documented in such a way that they add to plastics' history

The collection comprises objects that describe a variety of uses and activities.  These take into account the clothes we wear, the games we play, and the environments in which we live. 

Designers and manufacturers emerge from the collection, that is, if they are named.  Many of the objects in the collection are anonymous, we may not know who the manufacturer or the designer is, or the designer might be part of a design team who only get recorded under the manufacturer’s name.

Now that we, as a museum, are in this position we are seeking out these under represented designer and we would like to ask for your help.  We have a number of questions for you, our audience:

Firstly, to help us add to, and improve, our collection we would like to know who are the BAME designers who have worked / are working with plastics who should be represented in our collection?  At the same time, we would like to open up the debate about diversity in the design industry, particularly product design: 

  • Why are there few renowned BAME product designers?
  • Are they there but not being named?
  • Is it the nature of the design industry that it does not have a diverse workforce? 
  • Are undergraduate design courses lacking in diverse students?
  • What can be done about it?

Join in the discussions on our social media by using and following #MoDiPDiversity

Louise Dennis, Curator of MoDiP

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