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Is email dead? A new exhibition explores its cultural impact

An immersive new Design Museum exhibition prompts a wider conversation about the future of communication.


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Woman walks through inflatable clouds at the Is email dead? a new design museum exhibition

With the acceleration of new technologies like artificial intelligence and new methods of connecting online, the Design Museum’s latest exhibition explores how email has influenced the past and will shape our future. Opening 28 September 2023, the interactive Email is Dead exhibition is presented by Intuit Mailchimp, examining how email’s impact goes far beyond simply being a communication tool and considers how it helps shape our work lives, relationships, cultures and economies.

“I could never have imagined when I sent my first email that a few years later it would proceed to infuse my entire working day,” comments the Design Museum’s Josephine Chanter, “from invitations and newsletters to sharing vital information with colleagues and collaborators. And that our ability to influence, inform and persuade on this platform would be absolutely critical to making things happen.”

Email is Dead will lead visitors through a journey of the history of email – from its embryonic beginnings in the 1970s to what the email experience might look like in 2070. Colourful, inflatable displays will invite visitors to explore email’s impact by burying their own ‘email time capsule’ and be prompted to take an email personality test to discover what kind of emailer they really are. Imaginary and playful solutions for real-life situations, such as the dreaded piles of unanswered emails or the temptation to fire off an email that really shouldn’t be sent, are offered in the form of an ‘Inbox Elixir’  and an ‘Email Therapy Machine’. The ever-present nature of email will be emphasised through a photo booth that ‘transports’ the subject to absurd locations and prints out a wish-you-were-here postcard.

“Email is one of the most prevalent communication tools in the world, and everyone’s connection to the medium is personal,” comments Michelle Taite, Mailchimp’s CMO. “With this exhibition, we’ll present a life-sized reminder of how distinctive, powerful, and indispensable email is to life as we know it and explore words, design, and experiences that matter in this platform, ultimately answering a question we are often asked: is email dead? Not even close.”

Find out more at designmuseum.org

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