18 incredible design museum trips

11. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Design museum: Stedelijk

A striking new wing of the Stedelijk design museum opened in 2012

"When I am looking for inspiration I tend to avoid design museums: it's like being a chocolate addict swimming in a bowl of chocolate," grins Liza Enebeis, creative director at Rotterdam-based Studio Dumbar. "I need to keep some distance, or I'll drown in it."

It makes you look at a design with a different perspective

Nevertheless, Enebeis can pick out one particular favourite in her native Netherlands: the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, founded in 1874 but with a striking new modern wing opened in 2012.

"Placing design in a museum context and then next to a contemporary art collection makes you look at a design with a different perspective," she argues. "The clash or marriage is equally reflected in the building itself. These contrasts make it very inspiring for me."

12. Design Museum, Copenhagen

Design museum: Denmark

Denmark's largest design museum covers a range of design disciplines

Founded in 1890, Denmark's largest design museum spans applied arts across the country and Scandinavia in general. Of particular interest to graphic designers will be its standing collections of designs for labels, packaging, record sleeves and book jackets, as well as an impressive collection of poster art, covering commercial, political and more entertainment-focused applications for film, theatre and more.

The museum is currently running an exhibition entitled Danish Design Now, representing a selection of contemporary Danish design across the entire spectrum: furniture, product design, graphic design, fashion, and design in the public space. 

13. Museum of the Image, Breda

Design museum: Breda

A recent exhibition looked at the middle ground between fashion and graphic design

Based in Breda, The Netherlands, the Museum of the Image (MOTI) was formerly known as the Graphic Design Museum, but has since broadened its horizons to become "the leading authority on visual culture", encompassing film, design, photography, fashion, visual arts, architecture, science and gaming too.

Its permanent installation, entitled 100 Years of Dutch Graphic Design, is supplemented by a range of temporary and touring exhibitions, which recently included Couture Graphique - looking at the middle ground between fashion and graphic design. Past topics have covered branding, typography and all other aspects of graphic communication.

14. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris

Design museum: MNAM

This design museum is part of the visually stunning Centre Pompidou complex

It goes without saying that the French capital has more than its fair share of incredible art and design museum buildings where designers can soak up inspiration – the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Galerie Design Museum being two such examples, covering applied art (from textiles to advertising) and industrial design respectively.

But there are few better places than the Musée National d'Art Moderne, part of the Centre Pompidou complex in all its ultra-modern architectural splendour. With almost 100,000 items in total, its collection of modern and contemporary art is second only to MoMA in New York.

15. ArtScience Museum, Singapore

Design museum: Singapore

The ArtScience Museum is currently hosting a photography exhibition by National Geographic

According to Felix Ng, creative director at local design studio Anonymous, Singapore's brand new ArtScience Museum is a real source of creative inspiration. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the design museum opened in early 2011 and is shaped like a lotus flower.

Its architecture is an iconic Singapore landmark

"Its architecture is already an iconic Singapore landmark," explains Ng, who draws attention to a recent Essential Eames retrospective as a particular highlight. "It has huge potential to curate more successful design-centred exhibitions," he adds.

16. National Media Museum, Bradford

Bradford's National Media Museum has three cinemas, including the UK's first IMAX

Bradford's National Media Museum has three cinemas, including the UK's first IMAX

Bradford might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of design, but the UNESCO City of Film is the place to go for a visit to what aims to be the best museum in the world for inspiring people to learn about, engage with and create media. 

Originally known as the National Muesum of Photography, Film and Television, the now more snappily titled National Media Museum is home over 3.5 million items of historical significance, and looks after the National Photography, National Cinematography, National Television and National New Media Collections.

The museum features eight floors of permanent exhibits and temporary exhibitions, as well as the UK's first IMAX theatre and two other cinemas showing a varied film programme.

17. Museum HR Giger

The picturesque Swiss village of Gruyères is a brilliantly unlikely setting for Giger's biomechanical creations

The picturesque Swiss village of Gruyères is a brilliantly unlikely setting for Giger's biomechanical creations

The work of iconic Swiss artist HR Giger, who passed away in 2014, lives on at his very own museum. The HR Giger Museum came about after Giger held a 1990 retrospective of his work at the Château de Gruyères in Switzerland, and fell in love with the region. A few years later he bought the Château St. Germain in Gruyères and opened the HR Giger Museum there in 1998. 

It features an extensive collection of his artwork from different creative periods, including most of his film designs. And if you fancy a drink while you're there, it's also home to a Giger Bar, themed and modelled in his trademark biomechanical style.

18. Museum of Design, Zürich

If you can't make it to Zurich's Museum of Design, visit its eMuseum instead

If you can't make it to Zurich's Museum of Design, visit its eMuseum instead

Part of the Zurich University of the Arts, the Museum of Design in Zurich features four extensive collections centred around posters, graphics, design and applied art. Since 1875 it's been collecting posters, graphic design and objects that represent both day-to-day design and more high-end design culture. it recently opened a new location, the Schaudepot, in the west of Zurich, where it holds all its collections under one roof.

The museum also has its own eMuseum where you can browse its exhibits online, so if you can't get to Zurich to see the current exhibition of Wolfgang Weingart's groundbreaking modern typography, you can look through a selection of his work here instead.

Related articles:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.