Take over day at the V&A
This November, the V&A took part in Takeover day organised by the Children’s Commissioner for England and Kids in Museums. We invited students from two different schools, Langley Academy and Woolwich Polytechnic to come and ‘take over’ our exhibitions team and find out what goes into curating, organising and designing a blockbuster exhibition for the V&A.
The first part of the day was spent visiting our Ballgowns exhibition, students were tasked with analysisng the space which they would be curating for their own fanatasy exhibition. We also visited our 20th century galleries, this allowed students to see a different type of display and explore some of the objects in our permanent collections. On returning to the studio, the students teamed up to focus on an exhibition concept that would communicate what they think is good design, and to think about what would be interesting to young people. The teams were asked to identify key themes for their display and to consider objects from our permanent collections as well as a number of potential fantasy loans in their curatorial selection.
The students presented back their ideas in an industry style ‘pin up’ to the Director of the V&A, Martin Roth, Dr Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner, the exhibtions team and members of the Learning team. The first group to present were interested in the notion of the ‘party’ and wanted to showcase how youth culture socialised and ‘partied’ through different periods of time, the exhibtion would tell this story through fashion, furniture, tableware, music and graphic design.
The second group wanted to focus on contemporary fashion, in particular streetwear. This group selected some iconic examples of streetwear from our 20th century galleries to illustrate the development of street style, such as the Nike Air Max trainer and the Katherine Hamnett t-shirt.
The third group having been inspired by the Olympics, wanted to explore transport with a particular focus on cycling and movement. This group envisaged a exhibition which you could cycle around to view the objects on display.
The fourth group drew parrallels between the contemporary iconic performers, Lady Gaga and David Bowie. Using objects from our collections that span costume design, photography and graphic design. Interestingly, this group of students were not aware that we would be opening an exhibition about David Bowie in March and many of them are now very keen on coming!
Finally the fifth group were intrigued by objects from our Prints & Drawings collections, looking closely at graphic art, comic strips and illustration, this group conceived the idea of superheros and villains and wanted to showcase an exhibition that would look at these two character types through, graphic design, prints, costume design, performance and film.
By inviting young people to take over for the day, our aim was to showcase industry practice at the V&A, and to give young people an opportunity to sample this unique profession behind the scenes. We also got some interesting viewpoints on what young people want to see when they visit the museum.