Image: Half-piece reusable respirator. Made by 3M Australia, 1997-2000. Photographed by Ryan Hernandez.

Design for Life

26 September 2020–31 January 2021, 10am–5pm Powerhouse Museum Book Tickets

Exhibition Design for Life will temporarily close for updates on the 21 October 2020 and will reopen again on the following day 22 October 2020. We do apologise for any inconvenience.

Design for Life explores the central role of design in the health and medical sectors, showcasing design innovation in the creation of equipment, devices, tools and apparatus that save and improve the quality of human life. Local design industry collaborations are presented alongside the Powerhouse’s collection of medical and scientific materials from the late 1800s to the present day, highlighting the trajectory of these sectors.

The Heart and Monitoring, Design for Life Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.

The Heart and Monitoring 
Over the last century, a global increase in heart failure has prompted medical researchers, engineers and designers to develop lifesaving equipment and devices that can control abnormal heart rhythms and provide mechanical support.

Blood and analysis, Design for Life Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.

Blood and Analysis
Designers and medical experts are working together to bring lab accuracy to the wider community, with devices that allow us to test blood quickly and with more precision, including in our homes and in regional areas.

Breath and resuscitaiton, Design for Life Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.

Breath and Resuscitation
Respiratory illnesses have been prevalent throughout history and we have long sought to understand the relationship between the blood, heart and lungs. Today our knowledge of the respiratory system allows us to design highly customised support devices, such as ventilators, masks and respirators.

Medicine and Drugs, Design for Life Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.

Medicine and Drugs
Today, complex medications are designed to exploit weaknesses in bacteria, viruses and cancers. The safe use of these pharmaceuticals is assisted by designers with specialist knowledge in user experience and visual communication.

Extension and modification, Design for Life Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.

Extension and Modification
For centuries, injury, disease and congenital disorders necessitated the modification of the human body. Today, scientists, researchers and designers are focused on extending our biological capabilities, by pushing the human body to new limits.


Free entry, bookings essential. Registrations for this exhibition are now open.

Information on how to book can be found here.

Your free museum entry ticket provides access to Design for Life and other great exhibitions on display at the Powerhouse.

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Plan Your Experience

All the information you need to plan your visit is available on the Powerhouse Museum venue page, including:

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Discover More

Alupent and solu cortef medicine samples from the Powerhouse collection

View the Design for Life collection set

These objects have been selected for their design innovation at the time of their creation and have helped save and improve the quality of human life.

Leech dish from the Powerhouse Collection

Read more about medical leeches

Uncover the intriguing history of medical leeches, a global industry connected to Australia’s gold rush.

Heart from the Powerhouse Collection

3D printing in medicine

Learn how 3D printing is being used in different ways by surgeons, to rehearse procedures and replace bone.

Prosthetics from the Powerhouse collection

The Aesthetics of Prosthetics

Discover a brief history of prosthetics dating back to at least 300 BCE and the Roman Empire.

Request a copy of the large print guide upon arrival, or print it out before you arrive.
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