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Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill (UNESCO World Heritage Site)



A visitor attraction like no other

The brand-new Museum of Making has thrown open its doors to visitors from Derby and beyond, showcasing the region’s 300-year history of making and celebrating its rich history of innovation.

The Museum of Making is located on a site of global significance, where the Derby Silk Mill – widely regarded as the site of the world’s first modern factory – first stood over 300 years ago. This new visitor attraction is also located in the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the key sites of the industrial revolution - something that will appeal to visitors from far and wide.

This is no ordinary museum. It has been created and built by the people and industries of Derby, with hundreds of local volunteers helping to shape and design the way the museum will work for visitors. It will also tell the story of making in the region to help inspire visitors to unleash their creativity and start making.

Some stand-out elements to the new museum that visitors can enjoy include:

  • Entering the new museum via the Grade I listed Bakewell Gates. Designed by master ironmaker Robert Bakewell, the gates have stood proudly at the front of the Silk Mill in Derby since 1725
  • They will be able to make their own bespoke trail through the amazing 30,000 collections, which are displayed and shared in unique ways.
  • A seven tonne Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine suspended in the new Civic Hall above visitors’ heads
  • The much-loved Midland Model Railway, located in the Railway Gallery
  • The world’s smallest engine run using a human hair

Derby Silk Mill circa 1908 (L), and in the modern day (C), and an impression of the new Museum of Making (R).
Credit Derby Museums (L, C) and Bauman Lyons Architects (R).

A stunning building and a new place to meet

As well as being an exciting new visitor attraction, the Museum of Making will also provide a range of versatile spaces for locals and visitors alike. From fully appointed and publicly accessible workshops (packed full of equipment for any making project including a CNC machine, laser cutters and textiles) where people can actively create and make, to ‘The River Kitchen’ - a stunning new setting to meet friends and eat and drink overlooking the banks of the beautiful River Derwent.

On top of this, visitors to the Museum of Making can also enjoy:

  • A new viewing gallery at the top of the museum’s tower which looks out across the city and the beautiful Derbyshire countryside
  • The retail shop which showcases the work of makers, creators and designers from across the region to find new and unique products
  • Venue hire spaces which can cater for a variety of events, from small business meetings to large scale conferences - and even bespoke weddings like no other!

The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine being installed in the Civic Hall in August 2019 (L) and the world’s smallest engine, ran by a human hair (R). Credit Speller Metcalfe (L) and Derby Museums (R).

Inspiring and supporting the makers of tomorrow

The new museum will also be the home of the Institute of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths), a key educational resource for Derby and the wider UK generously supported by Rolls-Royce. New start-ups and makers will also have access to a new co-working space ‘The Prospect’, and young people will be inspired to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems when the Midlands Maker Challenge competition is launched in 2021 (generously supported by Midlands-based IMI plc.).


An impression of the new Civic Hall (L) and The Assemblage (R). Credit The Creative Core.

How the Museum of Making is being funded

The Museum of Making has been developed by Derby Museums, an independent charitable trust that also manages the Museum and Art Gallery and Pickford’s House in Derby. This £18m project is being funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and a range of trusts, foundations and businesses.



Discover more of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site 

Listing photographs credit: Pictoria Pictures and Chris Seddon Photography

Museum of Making is Open

27 Jul 2021 - 31 Dec 2021

At Derby Silk Mill, the Museum of Making will be opening on 21 May 2021. Celebrating the area’s rich history of innovation, the Museum of Making in the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site will be a contemporary space telling Derby’s 300-year history of making to inspire new creativity.


27 Jul 2021 - 28 Nov 2021

An exploration of big and small at the brand new Museum of Making.
In this interactive workshop you will work together to create a Map of Curiosity, choosing intriguing objects from the Museum’s Assemblage to plot on your map for others to explore.
LaserLab is the Museum of Making’s introduction to laser cutting.
As part of a series of co-produced events, Derby Museums are thrilled to present Empowered Adornment by Anisha Parmar.

Kitchenalia: Woodworking Course

7 Aug 2021 - 8 Aug 2021

Join Steve Smith, Pattern Maker by trade and the Museum of Making’s Workshop Supervisor, on this weekend course to make your own kitchen utensils and equipment.
Would you like be the proud owner of a mythical ram sculpture? If it’s to brighten your office, make a statement in your garden or to give someone special the ultimate surprise gift, you need to be at the Derby Ram Trail auction.

Assemble 2021

23 Oct 2021

An annual celebration of makers of all shapes and sizes at the new Museum of Making.

Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Silk Mill Lane Derby DE1 3AF

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