We’re doing a few last minute tasks before our latest exhibition opens at 10am this morning! Keep Calm and Carry On: the Domestic Revolution illustrates the evolution and advancements in technology of domestic appliances and labour-saving devices. This object-rich exhibition showcases more than 100 items from the Museum’s vast collections.
Before domestic appliances and labour-saving devices where commonplace in the home the domestic landscape was a very different one. During the Industrial Revolution of 1750-1850 significant changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times. By the beginning of the 20th century thousands of new products were flooding onto the consumer market. The greatest innovation during this century was the introduction of electricity, bringing light and power into the home.
Then came two major engineering innovations – resistance heating and small efficient motors – which lead to electric stoves and irons, vacuum cleaners, washers, dryers, and dishwashers. In the second half of the 20th century advances in electronics yielded appliances that could be set on timers and programmed, further reducing the domestic workload by allowing washing and cooking to go on with little human interaction.
Today how we use domestic appliances depends on their context and our location. With the supply of wireless products including iPhones, tablets and high-speed internet, our voracious appetite for new appliances and up-to-the-minute gadgets has already surpassed all expectations – leading to the explosion of the electronic revolution, civilisation’s next frontier.