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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The tapestries woven at the Gobelins were the finest of any produced in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. This example, produced before Boucher was appointed head of the Manufactory, clearly demonstrates the quality and skill of Gobelin workers. V&A T.54-1955

New Season of V&A/IHR Early Modern Material Cultures Seminars

Want to know more about 18th-century shipwrecks? Or the magnificent gifts exchanged between Siam and Louis XIV? Are you intrigued by the sound of Doctor Dildo’s ‘Dauncing Schoole’? (Is it possible not to be intrigued by the sound of Doctor Dildo’s ‘Dauncing Schoole’?) These questions and many, many more will be answered by the V&A/IHR […]

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The crucible has been lifted out of the furnace and placed in an iron support.  Becky removes the slag (waste) from the motlen bronze in the crucible.

We Think through Practice!

V&A/RCA History of Design students produce the most exciting object and design-led research. They organise conferences, symposia and shows, take part in practice-based workshops and study visits, contribute to major projects at the V&A and elsewhere and, of course, write about all aspects of the history of design, on this blog and as part of […]

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Length of ‘bandanna’ handkerchiefs, tie-dyed silk, Berhampur, India, ca.1880. Museum no. IS.678-1883 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Object Pitch Day 6 – Wednesday 30 October 2014

A flurry of last-minute withdrawals meant that Object Pitch Day 6 was less packed than previous sessions. Who can blame the dropouts? As previous days had shown, the competition was certainly fierce and only the best object-based research was going to make the final cut. As today’s knock-out series of pitches showed, that bar was […]

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Admiralty protest site in Hong Kong, November 2014. Image courtesy of Zara Arshad

Stories of Urban Resistance in Hong Kong

Each term the V&A/RCA History of Design Research Seminar Series provides a forum for the newest and most exciting thinking in design history and material culture studies. To continue the discussion beyond the confines of our seminar rooms, current MA students have written short, illustrated responses. This week’s post, by MA candidate Zara Arshad, considers […]

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John Pasche, Artwork for the Rolling Stones lips and tongue logo, 1970. Museum no.S.6121-2009 © Musidor BV

Object Pitch Day 5 – Friday 10 October – part 2

Let’s pick up where we left off: half way through a packed Object Pitch Day 5. 20 minutes in and four pitches down, we were thoroughly warmed up, ready for yet more fantastic object-led research. It was back to Bill Sherman and his stopwatch…. OP5/05 After the interval, we began with another repeat object, as […]

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Kinky Boots

This article is written by Joanne Pilcher, a volunteer on the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition and student on the V&A/RCA History of Design course. In my role as a volunteer for the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition I have been going through the acquisition files for all of the shoes and other objects that will appear […]

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André-Vincent Vielliard, Sèvres Porcelain Factory, soft-paste porcelain saucer [detail], painted in enamels and gilt, 1784, France. Museum no. C.114-1972 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Object Pitch Day 5 – Friday 10 October – part 1

By Object Pitch Day 5, we were over half way through the process and edging ever closer to our impossible decision. Our call for V&A staff to make their case for one object above the many had, again, resulted in a packed programme of great objects and even better ideas. (Reflecting the high number of […]

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Drug jar [detail], tin-glazed earthenware, Italy, 1593. Museum no. 5402-1859 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Object Pitch Day 4 – 1 October 2014

As we settled down for Object Pitch Day 4, we knew the score: it was going to be another hour packed with great objects and great ideas, making the choice of just one object for the project all the more difficult. It was over to Bill Sherman and his stopwatch… OP4/01 Reino Liefkes, senior curator […]

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Model, China, 1790-1800. Museum no. 9346(IS) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Object Pitch Day 3 – 16 September 2014

By Object Pitch Day 3 we all knew the rules, and the competition was certainly hotting up. Nine members of V&A staff made their cases for an impressive array of objects, from Katy-Perry-brand false eyelashes to the ironwork cross that once crowned the screen at Salisbury Cathedral. With every pitch as good as the one […]

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Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, photograph by Mike Harris. CC-BY-SA-2.0

Manners of Building: Architectural Style in England, 1550-1750

by Melissa Evans, MA candidate, V&A/RCA History of Design Some clichés are ubiquitous. Take ‘Home is where the heart is’ – it’s one of those sayings where, once you start to look, you find it everywhere: from cushions, plates and plaques in gift shops, to sachets of lavender, embroidered samplers and biscuit tins.  These objects, […]

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