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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Thinking and Experiencing ‘Techne’: Revealing Object Histories with UV Light

sixteenth-century case under UV light

  This post was written by second-year student, Letitia Calin, one of a group of V&A/RCA History of Design MA students participating in the ‘Thinking and Experiencing Techne’ seminar/lab.   Early on in the ‘Thinking and Experiencing Techne’ seminar and lab course of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA we investigated a selection of early […]

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Aiming for ‘Authenticity’: Re-Creating Early Modern Recipes on the V&A/RCA History of Design MA

Apple Preserve: the final result

This post was written by second-year student, Katie Vann, one of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA students participating in the ‘Thinking and Experiencing Techne’ seminar/lab. Before trying our hands at sixteenth-century varnish recipes, the class took up an initial experiment: following food recipes that were all over a hundred years old. With authentic re-creation […]

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Thinking and Experiencing ‘Techne’ on the V&A/RCA History of Design MA

Heating ingredients at Blythe House

This spring, students on the V&A/RCA History of Design MA course explored early modern artisanal knowledge and practices in ways that might appear to be rather unusual for historians. Donning lab coats and protective masks, they crushed amber, boiled linseed oil, and experimented with materials such as sandarac, mastic, spike, and camphor in order to […]

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Halloween and Divination

Image of demons dancing

Halloween as we know it today came to us from Irish and North American traditions. Besides from making turnip and pumpkin lanterns, dressing up in scary costumes and trick-or-treating, one of the popular festive activities previously associated with Halloween in Ireland was divination rituals and fortune-telling practices carried out as part of the celebration. These practices […]

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GUEST POST: My Qur’an pendant from Syria

My collection of talismans and amulets  © Victor Borges

Victor Borges is a Senior Sculpture Conservator at the V&A. One day when I was delivering an object to Victor in Sculpture Conservation I noticed he was wearing a chain full of small and curious pendants. Looking at it closer, I suddenly noticed a beautiful small gold pendant in the shape of a Qur’an with Arabic inscriptions. […]

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English Medieval Embroidery in the Norse World

Detail from the Butler-Bowden cope: St. Margaret standing on a writhing dragon, piercing it with a long-stemmed cross @  Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This post was written by Ingrid Lunnan Nødseth, a PhD student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim who recently completed a Visiting Research Fellowship in the V&A Research Department. With the upcoming exhibition Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery (opens Saturday 1 October 2016), the V&A has sparked renewed interest in the […]

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Elkington & Co. Visitors’ Book, 1855-1878

Colour lithograph showing the grand nave of the Palais de l’Industrie at the Exposition universelle in Paris, 1855.

  The Art of Electro-metallurgy The pioneering British electroplating company, Elkington & Co., was the world’s pre-eminent art-metalwork manufacturer of the 19th century. Founded by cousins, George Richards Elkington and Henry Elkington, and financed by the steel pen magnate Josiah Mason, from 1836 the company invented, patented and developed the key elements of the art of […]

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Brazilian Design: Travel notes #1

The Ibirapuera Park marquise (covered pathway), designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1954: one of São Paulo’s finest public spaces © Frederico Duarte

My PhD research project, one of twelve being developed at the V&A under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme (and in my case, also at Birkbeck, University of London with additional funding from a FCT studentship), focuses on Brazilian contemporary design. Design in Brazil is a topic I started researching in 2009 during my MFA in Design Criticism at the […]

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The Secret Lives of Early Modern Cabinets

Writing cabinet, Würzburg, made by Jacob Arend and Johannes Wittalm in the workshop of Servatius Arend, 1716. Museum no. W.23-1975. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This post was written by Nadia Baadj, Assistant professor of Art History & Rosalind Franklin Fellow at University of Groningen and former V&A Research Fellow What kinds of secrets do early modern cabinets hold inside, behind their locked doors, hidden drawers, and endless maze of compartments? Far from static pieces of furniture, the examples on […]

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Sensing Time: a royal mantel clock

A Royal mantel clock, Eileen Budd, 2016, London | Eileen Budd

Over the last weeks the forthcoming conference Sensing Time on 18 June 2016 has been the subject of several blogs in our series. Places for the event are still available (download the programme here). Please do call the V&A booking office on 020 7942 2211 to secure your place at the special blog offer of £15. Online […]

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