Object Analysis

We have put together an Object Analysis form to help students engage with the collection. The form can be downloaded below for use or the content can be viewed below:


Use this process to unearth a wealth of information by systematically analysing an object to reveal cultural and historical information. It can be used as an individual study process or as a group exercise.


  • Why do you visit a museum or gallery?
  • Is there a difference between seeing an object in a book or on a computer screen and seeing the actual object in a museum or gallery?
  • Why have you chosen this particular object? Does it evoke personal memories?

Use your knowledge of design, social and cultural history and available resources to determine the following:

  • Its function
  • Likely date of manufacture and when it was in common use.
  • How was it made and what is it made from? Consider its size, weight, portability, ergonomics.
  • Consumer/audience/user
  • Find advertisements or other promotional material for this or similar contemporary objects.
  • Has it won any awards and can it be attributed to a particular designer or manufacturer?
  • Appeal of the item. Consider its desirability/aesthetic appeal
  • Significance. Did the production of this item mark any significant developments in design, technology or changes in social or political attitudes? - Use library, museum and online resources to put the item in its relevant contexts.
  • What has been written about this item? - reviews, articles, books.

Group Activity

Write a detailed description of the appearance of the object without stating its purpose. Share your description with other students and ask them to draw what is described and/or decide on its purpose.