Derby unveils Museum of Making - Museums Association

Derby unveils Museum of Making

Long-awaited redevelopment of historic mill cost £18m
Capital projects Making
The Museum of Making is housed in a former silk mill
The Museum of Making is housed in a former silk mill Derby Museums & Art Lewry, Culture Communications Collective

Derby Silk Mill reopened to the public today as the Museum of Making following an £18m redevelopment.

The mill is widely seen as the location of the world’s first modern factory and is part of Derwent Valley Mills Unesco World Heritage Site. The new venue, which has been developed by Derby Museums, showcases 300 years of innovation, design and manufacturing in the city.

The displays have been created in partnership with residents who have been involved as curators, designers and makers. This human-centred approach to the design of the museum has been led by Hannah Fox, the director of projects and programmes for Derby Museums.

“The project has absolutely embedded the vision and the principles of developing the museum with the public and building a community through making,” said Tony Butler, the executive director of Derby Museums.

The redevelopment has been supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and Derby City Council. Significant funding has also come from engineering firm Rolls-Royce, which has had a long presence in the city, and a range of charitable trusts and foundations.

Visitors to the Museum of Making will first see the renovated Grade I listed Bakewell Gates, which have stood at the front of Derby Silk Mill since 1725. The new Civic Hall features a seven-tonne Rolls-Royce Trent 1,000 engine that is suspended from the ceiling.


The museum has put all of its 30,000 objects on display, many of which are shown in an open storage area called Assemblage.

The museum also features a range of facilities and services for makers, including a workshop and a co-working space. There is also a large learning room.

The first display in the temporary exhibitions gallery explores scale, and features the work of artists alongside objects from Derby Museums’ collection.

Inside the Museum of Making in DerbyChris Seddon/Speller Metcalfe/Derby Museums

With the Museum of Making complete, Derby Museums is in the early stages of planning the redevelopment of Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

“We will have a short pause, but the intention was always to look at a new future for the museum and art gallery,” Butler said. “That museum has the biggest collection of works by Joseph Wright of Derby in the world and his work as the artist of the Enlightenment absolutely speaks to the themes of the Museum of Making. His most famous paintings are scenes of scientific development and industry, which are key to the narratives we are telling here.”

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