Plans for Derby Silk Mill’s £16.4m Museum of Making unveiled

The transformation project to create a Museum of Making will begin at the end of the month and has been made possible thanks to successful HLF and Arts Council England bids

Derby Silk Mill’s designs for the Museum of Making show how the existing building will be restored, opening up parts of the building that have never been seen by the public before. They also illustrate how the project will expand the museum’s displayed collection and create space for future generations of innovators, makers and creators to learn more and build their skills.

They will be on show to the public today and Saturday and then again on April 27 and 29 when the Silk Mill will close to the public as development plans get underway. However, the Silk Mill will continue to be used for venue hire throughout 2017 and will host the 14-18 NOW tour of Paul Cummins and Tom Piper’s Poppies: Weeping Window from June 9 to July 23. The Silk Mill will also hold its second instalment of FIGMENT on August 19, which is a forum for the creation and display of participatory and interactive art, and then its Maker Faire in October.

Silk Mill Project Director, Hannah Fox, said it had taken a huge amount of work to get to this stage, much of it directly supported by local people, volunteers, stakeholders and visitors to The Silk Mill. “At the backbone of this project, is our desire for it to be a collaborative process, involving as many volunteers as possible,” she said.

Although the designs are not final, the museum wanted to share the initial ideas with the people of Derby and give them a chance to see the vision for the Museum of Making. “This will be a huge change for the museum, the building itself and for Derby’s tourism scene,” said Fox. “We are introducing a whole new visitor experience to celebrate the makers of the past, present and future. We’re so grateful to our funders and supporters for enabling us to get to this stage, and can’t wait to see the project progress.”

Thousands of volunteer hours have already been given to The Silk Mill Project, from workshops and public consultation events, to those regularly volunteering to support the collections team in making sure the vast array of artefacts are effectively logged, packed and transported to a temporary storage facility, ready for work to begin on the building itself.

Architects, Bauman Lyons, and exhibition designers, Leach, have been working with the Derby Museums’ team for the past year, developing the designs available to view today. The teams have held a wide range of workshops with local people of all ages, visitors to the Silk Mill and stakeholders from across the city, to help build a picture of how the Museum of Making should look.

“It has been an incredibly positive experience, working alongside the architects and the team at Derby Museums Trust on this pioneering project,” said Jim Parkin of Leach. “Through our work with volunteers we have found out so much about the building and its collections, as well learning a great deal on what matters to the local people visiting and using the museum. It’s so important for us to understand the people who will enjoy the Museum of Making, and not to just make assumptions based on our own design experience.”

There are three key themes to the Museum of Making: Inspired by the Makers of the Past, Made by the Makers of Today and Empowering the Makers of the Future.

The Museum of Making will open in summer 2020 in time for the building’s tri-centenary celebrations in 2021.