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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Last chance: V&A/IHR Early Modern Material Cultures Seminars!

Embroidered picture of Mary Magdalene, English, 17th century. Museum no. T.57-2012 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

You’re not too late for this year’s V&A/IHR Early Modern Material Cultures Seminars! This Monday, 1 June, marks the penultimate event in 2015’s highly successful series. We’re very much looking forward to Dr William Fisher’s (University of New York) intriguingly titled paper, ‘Doctor Dildo’s Dauncing Schoole: Sexual Instruments and Women’s Erotic Agency in England, 1600-1725.’ […]

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Installing ‘Glastonbury: Land and Legend’ – Day 3

Technicians in the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery installing the infographic map

The third day of install saw the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery completely transformed! The distinctive blue chairs, the iconic image of PQ2015, greeted us from the gallery entrance. They have been suspended from a bridge which links the gallery to the medieval Bethlehem chapel on the opposite side of the courtyard. The graphics for the installation, […]

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10 things we’ve learnt from a history of an OBJECT in 100 worlds

‘Your Victory Jumper’, knitting pattern, published in Home Notes magazine on 2 June 1945. Archive of Art and Design © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

With the last of the Object Pitch Days on the blog, and before the next stage of the project is announced, it seems an opportune moment to take stock of what we’ve already learnt from a history of an OBJECT in 100 worlds… 1.Never ever lend anything to Tony Robinson (aka Baldrick from Blackadder). Ken […]

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Calling all budding historians of design! Bursaries available for V&A/RCA MA History of Design, 2015/16

St Jerome in his Study, stained-glass panel, Germany, ca.1550. Museum no. 537-1907 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  A unique opportunity for funded MA places on the Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art MA in History of Design in 2015/16 only, supporting students who could not ordinarily afford postgraduate education. The Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS) is aimed at encouraging widening participation for UK and EU students entering MA study directly from […]

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A Collector of Secrets. Sir Balthazar Gerbier (1592-1663) in cultural diplomacy and the arts

Engraved portrait of Sir Balthazar Gerbier, engraving by J. Meijssens after Antony van Dyck (1599 - 1641);
17th century. Museum no. E.1298-1888 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

  The Middleburg-born Huguenot Balthazar Gerbier (1592-1663) excelled with a vast career spanning from the various arts, the world of diplomacy to that of a courtier and spy. Many scholars have explored various aspects of Balthazar Gerbier’s roles as an artist, collector, scribe, cryptographer, agent, colonist, pamphleteer or architect. Few, however, have brought these activities […]

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Object Pitch Day 8 – 26 November 2014 – Part 2

Tony Robinson (left), with Mick Aston and Guy de la Bédoyère on a dig for Channel 4’s Time Team, 2007 © Guy de la Bédoyère 2007

With only half an hour left, let’s get right back to the action in Seminar Room A. Time was running out on the first stage of a history of the OBJECT in 100 worlds, and with only three pitchers left, we knew lunchtimes at the V&A were about to get a lot more boring. Sob! […]

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Best laid plans: mapping the V&A by Andrew McIlwraith


Andrew McIlwraith is a PhD researcher in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. His research is funded by the AHRC Design Star Centre for Doctoral Training of which the V&A is a partner.   It’s no secret that the V&A is a complicated building. Even regular visitors may struggle […]

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Object Pitch Day 8 – 26 November 2014 – Part I

Mr Punch, puppet, Arthur Quisto, UK, 1937 (made); 1994 (altered). Museum no. S.526-2012 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

We’d finally made it: the very last Object Pitches for a history of an OBJECT in 100 worlds. Befitting the occasion Bill Sherman was in a ruminative mood, reminding us that “the only rule is time.” And so we settled ourselves for the last lunchtime session, which included yet another member of the Research Department […]

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Victorian Futures: Culture, Democracy and the State on the Road to Olympicopolis

Victorian Futures: Culture, Democracy and the State on the Road to Olympicopolis  Conference Poster

BOOK YOUR PLACE A collaboration between University of the Arts London, Middlesex University and the Victoria and Albert Museum.   On 14 and 15 May 2015, Chelsea College of Arts will host a two-day conference, Victorian Futures Culture, Democracy and the State on the Road to Olympicopolis, a collaboration between Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of […]

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Exploring the Edge: The Significance of the Marginal

1.	Hans and Ambroise Holbein, ‘Folly Descends from the Pulpit’, marginal drawing in a copy of The Praise of Folly by Erasmus, pen and black ink, 1515, Kunstmuseum Basel

We love thinking about all kinds of material traces at the V&A – even those that might seem taboo, like writing, or even drawing, in books. Current History of Design MA student, Alicia Farrow, tackles a recent research paper by the V&A’s Head of Research, Professor Bill Sherman, which celebrates what might seem to be […]

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