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Home truths

An impressive collection of artefacts offers a window on to middle-class life through the ages. Tom Hartley reports

The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MODA) - also known as the museum of the history of the home - houses a fine collection of original design work, wallpaper and textiles from the first half of the 20th century. Exploring Interiors, its current show, considers how middle-class homes in Britain were decorated from 1900 to 1960.

Original samples of wallpaper and textiles are on show alongside artefects, photographs and ephemera from the period. The exhibition is divided into four historical periods: 1900-15; 1920-40; 1940-60; and kitchen design throughout all those periods.

Younger visitors from Key Stages 1 and 2 are well catered for with a wide range of worksheet-style activities and a gallery trail that is designed to engage them in the various displays around the museum. Practical workshops are held in a well-equipped studio and use the museum's collection as a starting point. These are cross-curricular and have useful links to maths, design and technology, history and literacy.

The show may be less suitable for pupils in Key Stages 3 and 4 because the gallery space is quite limited and some exhibits may lack the "wow factor" to grab their attention.

The learning programmes for secondary and further education students include woodcut block printing and etching workshops that can be tailored to particular needs. The exhibition offers a great opportunity for Key Stage 5 students studying printmaking, design and technology or textiles to gain useful experience of the original artefacts available in the adjoining print room.

Visitors are encouraged to contribute their comments - positive and negative - alongside the exhibits. This theme of shared ideas is developed further in the Telling Tales display, set out in a corridor outside the main gallery. All those attending the show are asked whether they can relate personally to the exhibition, and are invited to write and display their memories of "home". In this way, the museum acknowledges that it can tell only part of the story, and that by relating their own tales of life at home, visitors can help to bridge some gaps.

Follow-up classroom activities based on the show are available on the museum website (see below for details).

The museum is now four years old, a newcomer to the world of educational visits. It is smaller than many London museums, but the high quality of its displays and educational programmes make it well worth a visit.

Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, at Middlesex University.

Telephone 020 8411

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