DIY exhibition in Derbyshire museum offers archive telly programmes and hands-on experiences for visitors

A new exhibition at a Derbyshire museum showcasing DIY through the decades uses archives from television programmes and encourages visitors to have a go.

Friday, 15th April 2022, 5:30 am
DIY is in focus at the new exhibition at Derby's Museum of Making
DIY is in focus at the new exhibition at Derby's Museum of Making

The Do It Yourself exhibition, running at Derby’s Museum of Making until September 2022, bring to life the history of DIY through archive television footage

shown at the exhibition.

Such TV programmes often reflected how society was changing, and visitors will be able to see how each era had its own look, feel and approach to DIY, from the ripping out and covering up of original features seen in Bucknell’s House in the 1960s, to the flamboyant, over-the top creations of the original Changing Rooms in the 1990s right up to the modern-day DIY SOS.

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Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Anna Ryder-Richardson, Andy Kane (Andy Handy), Michael Jewitt, Linda Barker and Graham Wynne on the home makeover programme 'Changing Room' (photo: BBC Archive/Stuart Wood)

There are several opportunities for visitors to roll up their sleeves and get involved, from wiring a plug to rag rugging. Visitors will also be able to rate their DIY skills on the specially made ‘Bodge-ometer’, make a medal for their DIY hero (or most improved!), share their top tips and help other DIY-ers by advising which tools everyone should have in their toolbox. There’s also a plumbing marble run, where visitors can learn how gravity impacts plumbing and a section of unknown tools that the Museum of Making team are hoping visitors can identify.

While acknowledging DIY’s ‘make do and mend origin’, the exhibition will also look to the future of DIY, not only exploring how current trends are now seen on social media platforms like Tik Tok, but crucially how improving our homes, workplaces and gardens can be as sustainable as possible.

Eilish Clohessy-Dennis, curator of making at Derby Museums who curated this exhibition, says: “Our exhibition explores so many different elements of DIY, from the stone tools our ancestors used for the earliest form of DIY, to the make do and mend movement, to practical magazines that taught 1950s homeowners how to build their own fridge!

“We are also really excited that visitors will have the chance to get involved and have a go at some DIY tasks as part of the exhibition. Throughout the national lockdowns many people looked at how they could improve their homes, and we want to encourage the next generation of DIY-ers to have fun exploring what they can do for themselves, and also help them to feel more confident that they can get creative in their own homes.

“Importantly, this exhibition also recognises the need for the future of DIY to be a sustainable one. Whether that’s upcycling items you already have, swapping items with others rather than buying new, or using biodegradable products and eco-friendly materials, there are many ways we can make DIY sustainable.”

Robert Seatter, head of BBC History, says: “DIY programmes have been a staple of the BBC’s content for decades, capturing listeners and viewers in their millions. In our centenary year, we are delighted to share some of this much-loved archive content with visitors to the Museum of Making’s exhibition, helping them relive some of the BBC’s memorable DIY highlights and looking forward to many to come in the future!”

The exhibition is sponsored by B&Q and admission is £4.50 per adult and free for children. To book your tickets, visit