Design Museum's From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers show to finally open

Find out new ticket and safety details below for the exhibition, which had been previously delayed due to the pandemic. A more in-depth exploration with curators of the show can now be read on our site here.

The look of dance music may have started for some in the masks of Deadmau5 or the helmets and pyramids of Daft Punk, but a new show at London's Design Museum reminds us that the relationship between visual opulence and electronic sound has been a long one.

Originally meant to open April Fool's Day, Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers is the museum's first music-themed exhibition, encompassing not just classic sleeves but also the light beam sights of Jean-Michel Jarre's laser harp and the more extreme end of Aphex Twin's videography. Having been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic, the show will now finally launch this July 31st 2020, with the museum 'partially' reopening the same day. Since that original launch date a lot has happened, most notable the tragic death of Kraftwerk member Florian Schneider, who passed away in May this year. Hopefully the new show will pay some sort of tribute to the electronic legend.

Chemical Brothers visuals (photo: Luke Dyson)


Tickets will be released to the general public at 9am on 10 July. Everyone with a ticket for the original dates will be contacted to exchange them for a new date; note that anyone hoping to visit will need to adhere to new safety guidelines as detailed below.

What to know

Although adapted from last year's popular Electro Expo at Musée de la musique - Philharmonie de Paris, the Electronic show has been made into a beast of its own with the museum premiere of a Chemical Brothers 'sensory spectacle' from creative studio Smith & Lyall.

Featuring elements of the dance duo's legendary live show, visuals and lights interact to create a 3D immersive experience as inspired by the psychedelic duo’s acclaimed No Geography tour. Those who checked out our recent Chemical Brothers music video feature will recognise some of the dance moves featured in the show from Michel Gondry's striking promo to Got To Keep On, the seventh best Chemical Brothers video to date in our rundown.

Note that new ‘Safe and Sound’ safety procedures will be in place for the July launch of the exhibition, including reduced capacity, mandatory face coverings, social distancing, enhanced cleaning and more. Read more on those here.

Know also that entry to the museum will be by advance ticket only and the museum has temporarily significantly extended its opening hours until 9pm to accommodate visitor needs.

Amy Lamé, Night Czar for London commented on the news that "the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on culture and the night time economy, so it is great news that the Design Museum will be opening its doors again with an exhibition in support of electronic music.

"London is renowned for its world-leading music industry, and this exhibition will help to celebrate the positive impact artists and venues have on the capital at a time when we’re waiting for our much-loved clubs to reopen."

What to expect

One of the many highlights of the Electronic show will be a chance to delve into the extreme visual world created by Weirdcore for Aphex Twin’s brain-bending T69 Collapse video (below), plus mask designs for him and fellow IDM titan Squarepusher. There's also a celebration of a half century of Kraftwerk history through a half-hour 3D experience, which'll no doubt be familiar to those who've seen the German group's amazing live performances.


Those familiar with the original Paris version of the show will be disappointed that none of the Daft Punk ephemera seems to have made it across the pond, but French house aficionados can make do with a specially curated soundtrack by Parisian DJ Laurent Garnier that syncs with the club-like lighting and video of the exhibition.

Featuring over 400 items, Electronic is divided into four sections: Man and Woman Machine, Dancefloor, Mix and Remix, and Utopian Dreams and Ideals. Visitors' journeys will begin with a timeline of revolutionary instruments and the innovators who pioneered them, including Donald Buchla, Tadao Kikumoto for the Roland Corporation and Daphne Oram for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

There'll also be an 'imagined' music studio from electronic music innovator Jean-Michel Jarre (below), a dynamic light installation by 1024 architecture and the Moog 55 synthesiser and the iconic TR-808. Keep an eye out also for The Visitor, a UFO-shaped drum machine created by Jeff Mills with designer Yuri Suzuki.

Photo: Gil Lefauconnier


Those more into graphic design can enjoy seeing how Peter Saville, The Designers Republic, Tomato, and Mark Farrow have responded visually to electronic music through cover art. There'll also be
 club posters from the recent campaign that saved Fabric, and a chance to 'travel' to warehouses and dancefloors from across the world (look out for objects from the iconic Haçienda club in the show.)

Kraftwerk photo by Peter Boettcher


On a less sensual, perhaps more cerebal level will be a discussion of how club communities have addressed laws intended to halt rave culture, and the expressions of resistance that have empowered minority groups. 
Cultural movements have always been at the heart of defending club culture, and art works on display like A History of the World by Jeremy Deller draw the connections between acid house and the post-industrial movement of the late twentieth-century.

On the show, curator Gemma Curtin remarks that "sound is only part of the story when it comes to this category of music: it has built communities on and offline, democratised music technology and provided a safe space for free expression."

Other speaking on the show include the Chemical Brothers themselves, saying "design is an essential element enhancing the experience of our live show. This new installation will give insight into how we work with Adam & Marcus (Smith & Lyall) on the visual aspect of our tours." Smith & Lyall add they "are excited to translate this to a museum setting for the first time."

Chemical Brothers visuals (photo: Luke Dyson)


Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers
will run from 31st July until February 14th 2021. To support local heroes, NHS workers will have a special exhibition preview day and benefit from concession discount at all other times. Tickets will be released to the general public at 9am, Friday 10 July 2020.

Related: How electronic music history was remixed for The Design Museum

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