Research is a core activity of the V&A, and it grows out of our original commitment to advancing the arts and sciences that shape the world around us. The Research Department works with experts throughout the Museum and a wide range of external partners in increasing access to and understanding of the collections in our care, helping to make the world’s oldest and largest museum of art and design a leading centre for object-led learning at the interface between history, theory and practice.

The Research section of the V&A blog will offer progress reports and provocations, sneak previews and glimpses behind the scenes, from people working on and in our collections.

Image: Pair of suede shoes, made in England, 1950s. X-ray image by Paul Robins, Object Number T.12-1990. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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Interview with Iris van Herpen

Dress detail, Voltage Haute Couture, Iris van Herpen, 2013, (c) Leanne Wierzba

This interview took place between fashion designer Iris van Herpen and Leanne Wierzba, co-curator of What is Luxury?, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in late-July 2015. Leanne Wierzba: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me to discuss your work, in particular the dress that you have loaned to us for What is Luxury? – […]

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V&A/RCA History of Design Takes a Bow

V&A/RCA History of Design Symposium, 2015. Photo: Sophie Declerk, 2015

In the final post by graduating students, Max Maisey-Curtis reveals the backstage nerves behind the scenes at the 2015 V&A/RCA History of Design Symposium. Earlier this month, the curtain fell on the V&A/RCA History of Design Class of 2015’s time at the museum, as graduating students delivered their final Symposium. In doing so, we covered […]

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From Animal Products to Christian Dior: Opening the Drawer on a V&A/BGC Student Placement


A guest post from Rebecca Sadtler, this year’s Bard Graduate Center MA Student Placement.   There are few things more exciting to a young fashion historian than opening an unassuming drawer and uncovering Christian Dior’s famous New Look ‘Bar’ suit tucked inside, or a Balenciaga evening dress of brilliant cerise silk taffeta, or even a […]

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Monkey Business

'Monkey Business,' Studio Job, 2013 (c) Studio Job

While luxury is often marketed and understood in the media through objects – produced by designers and brands notable for their heritage, prestige and sophistication – selecting objects that enabled us to interrogate the concept of luxury in an exhibition format became one of our greatest challenges. On the one hand, there are so many […]

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Congratulations to V&A/RCA History of Design Class of 2015!

V&A/RCA History of Design Class of 2015. Image courtesy of Harriet Lane, 2015

Many congratulations to the V&A/RCA History of Design students, who graduated amidst the pomp and ceremony of the Albert Hall, last Friday, 3 July. We wish them all the very best in their future endeavours, as they go onto influence the worlds of art, design, education and whatever else they turn their eminently capable hands […]

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Our Private Pinterest Board: The best of our rejected contextual images


First I’d like to thank the wonderful guest bloggers we had over the past few months who have done a fantastic job of sharing their expertise and insight with us. We hope you’ve been enjoying these blogs posts as well. If so, you’ll be happy to hear we’ve enlisted even more amazing people to post in […]

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Glastonbury: A Living Installation


The last five days at Worthy Farm in Somerset were a midsummer night’s dream. With Friday’s empty slot on the Pyramid Stage remaining a mystery, the festival site was alive with rumour and expectation. Secret gigs and underground clubs were on everyone’s lips and despite the unsettling character of the festival’s micro-climate (blazing sunshine one moment […]

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In praise of ibid.

JP fig 1

The third guest post by graduating V&A/RCA History of Design students sees Joanne Pilcher put a fresh spin on the meaning of ‘ibid’. ‘ibid.: In the same source (used to save space in textual references to a quoted work which has been mentioned in a previous reference). Abbreviation of Latin ibidem ‘in the same place’.’ […]

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V&A/RCA History of Design Joins the Dots at ShowRCA

V&A/RCA History of Design at ShowRCA. Photo: Zara Arshad, 2015

In the second guest post by graduating V&A/RCA History of Design students, Chloe Frechette and Zara Arshad take us behind the scenes in a sneak preview of what’s on display at ShowRCA, which opens to the public today. For the past week, V&A/RCA History of Design students have created networks, combining key concepts and bright […]

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Persistence rewarded: the V&A’s Mughal coat


Hunting coat; embroidered satin with silk; 
Mughal Indian; 
c.1620 - 30.

The V&A’s Mughal embroidered coat  is well known as one of the finest surviving examples of Indian court dress, and has been frequently displayed and published since the Museum acquired it in 1947. But in spite of its superb quality, the coat was rejected for acquisition by V&A curators not once, but twice. Its owner was […]

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