10 Years of Design Museum Boston & What’s Next

By Sam Aquillano, Executive Director

10 years. In a city like Boston with museums and universities that are literally hundreds of years old, 10 years sounds like a small blip in history. But we know this is a significant milestone, because bringing a new nonprofit museum into the world isn’t easy.

Over the last 10 years you’ve all watched us grow from a spark of an idea into an established organization — and you’ve been part of it. From the beginning, my co-founder Derek Cascio and I knew inherently that in order to be successful we had to build a community around this vision. And like all good designers, we genuinely like people.

We did three things right from the start: We built a team of dedicated volunteers to help us develop the idea — this group included people like my brother Steve, and Derek’s then-girlfriend, now-wife, Jenna.

We wanted to organize people online to solicit their ideas and feedback, so — and this was kind of crazy — we created and launched our own social network called designingamuseum.org where we could have an online conversations about this new Design Museum.

And we started holding events and convening people to share our vision and build a real community. In a time when we can all just as easily be at home watching Netflix, we all know that being together in person is important and a big deal — and that’s the power of design, to bring people together around challenges and opportunities.

The volunteer crew at our first event in 2010.

Our 10th anniversary Gala was the culmination of all those gatherings — on June 8th we gathered to celebrate a community and a movement of publicly accessible design in Boston and beyond. We have done a lot in 10 years including major, nationally-traveling exhibitions, thousands of events, publications, inspiring hundreds of thousands, and more. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

The last 10 years were incredible and impactful, but honestly I’m more excited about the next 10 years. This past spring we finished our first ever Strategic Planning process — the result puts us on a path to grow our community, share this vision, and continue to build a movement around impactful design.

Here’s some of what you can expect, and what your support is fueling in the years ahead:

We’ll continue to produce stunning, publicly accessible exhibitions — our exhibitions are always free and open to the public. Exhibits like Bespoke Bodies: The Design & Craft of Prosthetics not only educate the public about design’s impact but they also become a tool for advocacy and help us and our partners make a better world for everyone.

We’re doing more and more publishing, whether it’s our quarterly Design Museum Magazine or our book on playscape design, and now we’re writing a book on prosthetic design — you’re going to see more books and publications from the Design Museum.

Over the next 10 years we also aim to lead and support efforts to diversify design, turning a mirror to the creative industries to ensure we’re reflecting our communities and elevating talent from all backgrounds. At Gala 10 we announced our next exhibition: We Design: People. Practice. Progress. which is part of our start in this important work.

And lastly, we’re working to launch a robust youth-focused design program to help educate the next generation of creative problem solvers. We recently hired our first-ever museum educator, Diana Navarrete-Rackauckas to lead a number of youth-focused educational initiatives, including our forthcoming Neighborhood Service Project, which will teach kids in Cambridge design skills and unleash their creativity to solve problems in their community.

The future of the Design Museum is bright thanks to you, our community. I hope you’ll join us as we continue the important work to bring the transformative power of design everywhere.

Here’s to the next 10 years!