We have launched a new website and are reviewing this page. Find out more
Open daily 10.00 to 17.45 Admission free Menu

These design resources support young people’s enjoyment of a museum visit and show how museum objects can provide can rich inspiration for their own imagination and creativity.  They have been devised to use in any museum with art and design collections, although the principles can also be applied more broadly to other types of museum collections.


Toolkits for teachers and community project workers


Design for Life toolkit for teachers

These toolkits provide practical step-by-step guidance and ideas on how to organise a museum visit with young people. The toolkit shows how to use the visit as a starting point for a design project and also how to work with a professional designer if desired.

Toolkit for teachers
Engaging young people in design by working with museums and professional designers.

Download: Toolkit for teachers (PDF file, 853 KB)

Toolkit for youth and community project workers

Using museums to engage young people in art and design activities.

Download: Toolkit for youth and community project workers (PDF 1,496 KB)


Design for Life toolkit for youth and community project workers

Design for Life project case study

This looks in detail at how to design a polypropylene bag inspired by objects in the V&A museum.

Download:  Design for Life project case study (PDF file, 1,450 KB)

Design for Life project planning document

This flexible form acts as a checklist to support three-way project planning between group leaders, museum staff and designers. 

Download: Design for Life planning document for use with the toolkits
(Word file, 201 KB)


design for life Ideas Collector activity sheet

Ideas Collector activity sheet

Museum activity sheets

These PDFs can be downloaded and printed so the activities can be carried out during a museum visit.

Ideas Collector
Draw and store ideas from museum objects on triangular shapes to create an attractive pyramid souvenir of your museum visit and to use for inspiration later.

Download: Ideas collector activity sheet (PDF file, 97 KB)

Design Challenge: Imaginative Headgear

Design headgear to either attract new friends or repel others from your personal space.  Get inspiration from shapes and structures in museum objects.

Download: Design imaginative headgear activity sheet (PDF file, 207 KB)

Design DNA
Unravel the different strands of an object’s design. This simple questioning framework helps young people develop their critical analysis skills when looking at museum objects.

Download: Design DNA activity sheet (PDF file, 48 KB)



Talking Design
This short film demonstrates how group leaders can engage young people in discussion about design objects in a museum using the Design DNA activity model. As an example, young people discuss the iconic plastic chair designed by Verner Panton in 1960, the first to be moulded from a single piece.

View transcript of video


Design for Life: using museums to engage young people in design
A four-minute film about the Design for Life project showing the high standards of design work achieved by young people from both schools and youth and community settings when inspired by museums.

View transcript of video


DesignShare Gallery  
This interactive gallery will allow you to share your museum-inspired design projects.
Upload an image of the original museum object, your working drawings in the museum and an image of your final product.


Design for Life resources at other museums

Bolton Museum & Art Gallery
Online lesson plan and filmed demonstration on how to develop silkscreen designs from museum objects.
Films and inspiration images from the museum’s Natural History and Egyptology collections.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
How to do a schools project on sustainable fashion design: session plans plus four short films with tips and demonstrations by designers
Mask Design: downloadable gallery trail and project ideas.

Manchester City Galleries
Downloadable resources and handling materials to use in the gallery on lighting design, chair design and creative thinking skills.

Museums Sheffield
Metalwork design projects and exploring the design process through inspiration from natural forms.
Design activities for families and community groups such as ‘Design a biscuit cutter’.

Shipley Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Museums & Archives
Online resources and handling collections on jewellery, textiles, furniture and product design.
Downloadable Design Challenge trail to do in the galleries.



Design for Life was funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education from 2008-2011; and additionally by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council from 2010-11, as part of the government's Stategic Commmissioning Programme for museum and gallery education.

DCMS logo

V&A Innovative Leadership Programme

The V&A Innovative Leadership Programme is aimed at managers working in the arts & creative industries looking to develop new skills, insight and opportunity. Applications are now open for the next course.

Apply now