advertisement
advertisement

Here’s how curator Corinna Gardner keeps one of the world’s great museums relevant

From 3D-printed guns to Ikea stuffed animals, the objects she selects for London’s Victoria and Albert Museum resonate in today’s popular conversation.

Here’s how curator Corinna Gardner keeps one of the world’s great museums relevant
advertisement
advertisement

How does a 168-year-old museum stay relevant in the 21st century? To Corinna Gardner, senior curator of design and digital at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the answer is simple: collect objects that are important to people right now. The Rapid Response Collecting program she created in 2014 has ushered more than 35 unconventional recent designs into the V&A’s hallowed halls, from the world’s first 3D-printed gun to an Ikea stuffed animal that became a potent symbol of political protest in Hong Kong. “It’s about bringing design objects into the museum at the time they are the subject of popular conversation,” she says. Digital artifacts are increasingly a top priority. In 2019, she acquired the visual identity of the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion (consisting of a digital file of its hourglass logo, among other things) alongside the open-source website the group uses to disseminate information to 59 countries around the world—proof that the medium is as important as the message. Gardner is inspired by new creative design ideas that demonstrate “how we are coming together as a society to find comfort at a time of crisis,” she says, citing 3D-printed ventilator valves, adapters that make it possible to open doors without touching them, and a website that urges you to stop touching your face.

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

More