To mark the 70th anniversary of the 1946 Britain Can Make It exhibition, the original catalogue and its supplements have been scanned to enable wider access to this important research resource. Published by the Council of Industrial Design, the catalogue presents a rich and detailed picture of the design professions and British manufacturing in the postwar years.
While the contents of museums, archives and libraries are often listed online, it can sometimes be invaluable to see a document in its entirety, particularly if it is a key source that isn’t accessible elsewhere. To showcase our resources to new audiences we are adding to the 38,500 catalogue records and digital image files already produced by selectively releasing entire documents. Though this cannot replace the direct contact and knowledge exchange provided in the Design Archives reading room, it certainly complements it. The balance between meaningful remote access and engagement with our in-house expertise is something that we work hard to achieve.
The Design Archives Document Library contains 8 different publications, completely digitised and presented in an interactive format that allows the user to search and cite the document. The plan is to add to this document library incrementally. Other highlights include This or That, illustrated by Barbara Jones in 1947, and the booklet produced to mark the opening of the Commonwealth Institute in 1962, a building currently being refurbished to accommodate the new Design Museum.
The Design Archives has developed and contributed to web-based resources since the late 1990s. Major initiatives such as Designing Britain, still accessible on the Visual Arts Data Service, paved the way for further work in producing and curating digital content. Our catalogues and other selected digital images from the Design Archives are continually being uploaded to the Archives Hub and Archives Portal Europe. A recent project, Exploring British Design, pioneered the abilities of connected content to present new ways of looking at designer relationships.
The Document Library was made possible thanks to the support the Design Archives receives from the Hefce Museums and Galleries fund.
This is one in a number of initiatives planned by the Design Archives to mark the 70th anniversary of the Britain Can Make It exhibition. A symposium entitled Seventy years on from the Britain Can Make It Exhibition, organised by the Internationalising Design History research cluster, takes place on 7 October 2016.