The Museum of Making: Archive and the Machine

group table

Derby Silk Mill have set a brief for a Sheffield School of Architecture Live Project. Masters in Architecture (MArch and MAAD) students are investigating innovative ideas for self-build display and storage units which will allow for 100% of the Silk Mill collection to be opened to the public. Entitled Archive and the Machine, the student collective is directing itself towards the merging of the large archived collection with the presence of technologies and new making methods which are being used to build the Museum of Making.

Visual Brief

Within the Re:Make Museum project, this design-based research will initiate thinking of how the public can interact with not only the collection but the display of the collection at different levels. Considering perspectives on making, from skilled carpenters to first-time visitors, the design proposal responds to degrees of making which the museum have in place with their makers and visitor sessions, and proposes a base module which can be assembled by anyone: with precedent found in japanese joinery and puzzle boxes it offers a no-fixing, no-glue environmental solution which becomes part of a community makers’ process. Energy in this regard has become a prominent part in realising this project and the legacy which it leaves for the museum; how can anyone get involved? Utilising CNC milling and contemporary technologies, it allows this project to outline template concept prototypes which can be reproduced readily, and respond to the museum’s growth and the vision of the curators.


Alongside the practicality of making, the design of the module gives heavy consideration towards environmental and security needs for each item. This was done in the context of visitor experience and the museum wishing most objects to be handled and experienced physically; the module in this respect becomes a frame for a series of interventions, whether it be woven security measures or drawers, which create suitable environments in which the public can enjoy the items.

Collecting thoughts

With the hope of extending their collection beyond inanimate objects, a key part of the brief, and an element in particular that the design team have focused on, is how visitors can leave memories or stories that they have of an object, and that becomes part of the history and narrative of each piece. In this sense, the collection, and the display/storage alike, are organic and ever-growing. The flexibility of the base module and the ability to join a number of modules together in any configuration allows for the creation of extensive furniture units or spaces which can invite interaction and the leaving of narratives, such as a memory wall or craft tables to draw.

prototype in workshop

The legacy of this project is twofold: firstly it offers people of any age or skillset a part in the making of the museum; The making of the modules brings technology processes and energy uses to the public consciousness, and prompts people to imagine what can be created from a humble object made in an efficient way. Secondly it brings the breadth of the archived collection to an interactive public front, and creates a platform for experience and memory to be shared. These memories can be taken forward onto a digital platform, and become as much a part of the exhibition as the objects themselves.

Post & images by the  Sheffield School of Architecture Live Project team. Read more on their blog-


One response to “The Museum of Making: Archive and the Machine

  1. Pingback: Behind the Buzz – Joining Future Works | Future Works·

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