What are modern museums really for?

Wednesday 11th May, 2016 | 18.30 - 20.00

Second Home
68-80 Hanbury St,
London E1 5JL

Today’s museums face an existential crisis, namely we’re no longer sure what they’re for. Despite extraordinary collections and curatorial knowledge, many rely on tourists, the mega blockbuster and school children to maintain visitor numbers.

This includes the V&A, which is among the UK’s top ten visitor attractions and the world’s largest museum of decorative art and design.

So why does it want to build a 18,000sq m museum for the “digital age’ in east London?

V&A East will be part of a new cultural and higher education quarter on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with an ambition to create a new model for how cultural and educational organisations can work in the future.

Join us for a fascinating talk by David Bickle, the V&A’s Design Director, on V&A East and why museums need to respond to external factors, such as social media and world events, while also becoming more visitor focused.

He said: ‘The V&A has to respond to the times. If South Kensington is a glossy magazine, then V&A East is the Huffington Post. We have to engage more with our audiences and while we have amazing objects, we need to use them to respond to timely world issues such as displacement and migration”.

The talk is being held at Second Home, a collaborative workspace for various small companies in Shoreditch. Designed by Spanish architects, SelgasCano, it features transparent acrylic walls, over a thousand plants and a so-called “flying table” that is winched up to create the event space.




David was appointed Director of Design, Exhibitions and FuturePlan in May 2015.

He is responsible for the V&A ‘brand’ in its many forms, ranging from exhibition posters to the new V&A East project in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – he is also responsible for the Museum’s Temporary Exhibitions Programme.

Prior to joining the V&A, David was a Senior Partner at HawkinsBrown Architects. He has more than 20 years’ experience of leading award-winning projects within the education, commercial, arts and regeneration sectors.

Alongside developers Urban Splash, David was responsible for the regeneration of the Grade 2* listed Park Hill estate in Sheffield, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2013. One of the last projects that he led, alongside creative agencies Poke and DN&CO was Here East - the repurposing of the former Olympic Press, Media and Broadcast Centres within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

David has chaired a number of competition and jury panels including Forgotten Spaces Sheffield, Regional RIBA Awards and advised the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architectural Biennale. He lectures at a number of universities and is an external examiner at the University of the Creative Arts. David sits on the boards of Oily Cart, S1 Artspace, and Tannery Arts. He is a Patron of the Drawing Room.