The Museum of 21st Century Design

M21D

Our mission

To enhance public understanding and appreciation of design from the 21st century that has positive social or environmental impact.

Why we exist

At M21D, we believe that museums play a key role in public education and influencing professional practice, and therefore are well suited to help illuminate the environmental and social impacts of design while also encouraging designers to think about their work in a more holistic way. The Museum recognizes that the traditional approach of design museums is too limiting, prioritizing aesthetics and embracing hype, celebrity, and technological novelty which reflects values out-of-touch with 21st Century priorities: to achieve greater social and environmental justice.

M21D sets out to go beyond such conventions by staging meaningful engagement and building community through its programming and exhibitions. The result is a new institution for design fit for our time.

How we work​

By creating exhibitions and programs, conducting research, producing publications, and presenting an online collection. The focus of all our activities will be to address the priorities, conflicts, tastes, and technologies of the 21st Century. 

Design collection

The Museum showcases design developed since 2000 that represents the best of its kind: reflective of the cultures from which it has arisen, demonstrating creative synthesis of form with function, and prioritizing the needs of users and their communities.

The Museum takes an expansive view of design, defining it as a process of translating intention to function in a wide range of media, including the intangible. Traditional types of design such as architectural plans and industrial objects will be collected, as well as web interfaces, strategies for social activism, speculative design, and genetically-modified organisms.

Crucially, the Museum will not collect or preserve physical objects. In accordance with our mission, we aim to make as small an energy and material footprint as possible. This means not warehousing and maintaining objects. Instead, the collection will be digital: photographs, drawings, video, sound, and descriptive texts will be archived and updated for each artifact and made available online for study and comment.

Attributes of objects such as price, carbon footprint, extent of recyclability, wages of people working on production lines, and any other measurable social or environmental impact will, when known, be recorded along with more traditional data gathered by museums.

Exhibitions and programs

Our public activity will be nomadic and prioritize formats that have the highest potential for fostering discourse and engagement. This may be in a public space, online forum, festival, conference, or other unconventional medium. We will meet audiences where there are and will sometimes surprise them.

We aim to flip the conventional behavior found in museum or gallery spaces by insisting on participation and co-creation, and encouraging visitors to talk and to touch exhibitions.

All exhibitions and programs will be thoroughly documented with photography and video and archived alongside the online collection.

Admission to all exhibitions and programs will be free of charge and open to everybody.