Helen Megaw, crystallographer : papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Designs, drawings and photographs of crystal structures (1937 - 1977); instrument catalogues (1945); correspondence, draft articles and press cuttings relating to crystal formations and design (1945 - 1962); Festival Pattern Group minutes (1949 - 1951); correspondence with scientists (1949 - 1953); publications produced by the Committee of the Festival of Britain (1951); correspondence relating to samples of crystal structure designs from the 1960 International Congress of Crystallography (1951 - 1960).

Administrative / Biographical History

Helen Megaw (1907 - 2012) read chemistry for her first degree and after completing a PhD obtained a post as a crystallographer at Girton College, Cambridge. In the 1940s she began to use crystal structure diagrams as a basis for decoration. In 1949 Mark Hartland Thomas, chief industrial officer of the Council of Industrial Design, liaised with Megaw about her design work. She was subsequently appointed scientific consultant to the Festival Pattern Group for the Festival of Britain, 1951.

The Festival Pattern Group worked on the Crystal Design Project which involved 28 manufacturers representing the cutlery, glass, paper, pottery and textile industries. They used patterns on their products derived from crystal structure diagrams which were supplied by Megaw and her scientific colleagues, including those from china clay, haemoglobin and insulin. Many of the motifs were used on furnishings and tableware in the Regatta Restaurant at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Arrangement

Sorted by document type.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Given by Helen Megaw, 1977

Note

Bibliography:

Helen Megaw 'The Investigation of Crystal Structure', Architectural Review, Vol. 109, No. 652, April 1951, pp. 236-239.

Mark Hartland Thomas 'Festival Pattern Group', Design, No. 29-30, May-June 1951, pp. 12-25.

Mary Banham & Bevis Hillier ed. 'A Tonic to the Nation: The Festival of Britain 1951', (London: Thames & Hudson, 1976).

Other Finding Aids

Full list available at AAD and NAL.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Related Material

Textiles & Dress Collection, holds a jacket and length of furnishing fabric given by Dr. Megaw.

See also AAD/1979/5 Festival of Britain publicity material and film; AAD/1980/3 Misha Black, industrial and exhibition designer and architect: archive; AAD/1988/18 Central Office of Information Photographs Division: the Festival of Britain collection; AAD/1994/10 Festival of Britain printed ephemera, photographs and publications; AAD/1994/9 George Backhouse, former Chief Executive Officer, Personnel and Organisation, Festival of Britain: papers.

Additional Information

Bibliography:

Helen Megaw 'The Investigation of Crystal Structure', Architectural Review, Vol. 109, No. 652, April 1951, pp. 236-239.

Mark Hartland Thomas 'Festival Pattern Group', Design, No. 29-30, May-June 1951, pp. 12-25.

Mary Banham & Bevis Hillier ed. 'A Tonic to the Nation: The Festival of Britain 1951', (London: Thames & Hudson, 1976).