MUDE opened in 2009, occupying a Pombaline block that was the former headquarters of the National Overseas Bank, with eight floors across a vast space of 14,000m2. One of the priorities of MUDE is the establishment of a significant nucleus of design and material culture in Portugal. This aims to place importance upon the integration of important pieces of decorative arts and popular crafts, expand the concept of design and prove the relevance of traditional knowledge as a source of inspiration, education and development.
The museum's initial focus was the Francisco Capelo Collection, composed of furniture, objects and fashion reflecting the main trends of international design from the 1930s to the end of the 20th century. Among the institution's other collections are the Maria Gambina, António Garcia, Carlos Rocha and Storytailors collections. MUDE also collects pieces in diverse materials, such as glass, ceramics, metals, wood and textiles, produced by local institutions or by designers in collaboration with artisans.