Research

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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Recreating Sixteenth-Century Varnishes on the History of Design Course

Brushing the glaze over the paint

As part of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA course, during the spring term students have the chance to explore early modern making techniques as a form of historical research through practice.  With the support of V&A curators, conservators and tutors, students recreate early modern recipes to reflect on practices of making and the nature […]

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Against a Pile of Ashes

The following is the lead catalogue essay for ‘A World of Fragile Parts’, the inaugural exhibition for the Pavilion of Applied Arts at the Venice Biennale, which was on display last year for the duration of the Architecture Biennale. The exhibition was curated by Brendan Cormier and Danielle Thom, and looked at how the V&A’s 19th […]

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Experiments with Amber: Recreating an Early Modern Varnish Recipe on the History of Design Course

Amber varnish experimental lab class

As part of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA course, during the spring term students have the chance to explore early modern making techniques as a form of historical research through practice.  With the support of V&A curators, conservators and tutors, students recreate early modern recipes to reflect on practices of making and the nature […]

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Thinking and Experiencing ‘Techne’: Making Azurite. Part 2

Different shades of azurite

As part of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA course, during the spring term students have the chance to explore early modern making techniques as a form of historical research through practice.  With the support of V&A curators, conservators and tutors, students recreate early modern recipes to reflect on practices of making and the nature […]

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Experiments with Azurite on the History of Design MA Course

Grinding with a muller

As part of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA course, during the spring term students have the chance to explore early modern making techniques as a form of historical research through practice.  With the support of V&A curators, conservators and tutors, students recreate early modern recipes to reflect on practices of making and the nature […]

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20 May 1867. A milestone in the history of the Royal Albert Hall

On this very day 150 years ago, Queen Victoria went from Windsor Castle to South Kensington to lay the foundation stone of the Royal Albert Hall. She reported in her diary: A muggy dull day. At ½ p. 10 started for London. A little rain had been falling, the sky was heavy and the air oppressive, […]

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People, Places and Things: New Models for Collections-Based Research

A ‘parliament of things’ holds court in an anatomical theatre, precious paintings are suspended for all to see in a giant mirrored bowl, migration histories and scientific mysteries are painstakingly teased out of 300 year-old woven silk and metal – museum research is more adventurous than ever and the inaugural symposium of the V&A Research […]

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The Cabinet of Curiosities: Reflections on modern art historical thinking

Portrait of Elias Ashmole

If you, like me, are curious about cabinets of curiosity, the inaugural Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Lecture on the history of collecting was a key date. Given by esteemed art historian and authority on the history of collecting, Professor Paula Findlen, it was South Kensington’s hottest ticket. If you were disappointed not to get one, […]

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Filming the History of Design experimental lab class

techne video

Two second-year students who took part in the techne seminar/lab, Vivien Chan and Charlotte Slark, created a series of videos to document the lab sessions in the module. Making the films posed various challenges and they offer a record of the changing thought processes, decisions, reflections and surprises that characterised this experimental class. Vivien and […]

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Thinking and Experiencing ‘Techne’: the Finished Varnishes

Different varnishes

This post was written by second-year student, Rebecca Goozee, one of a group of V&A/RCA History of Design MA students participating in the ‘Thinking and Experiencing Techne’ seminar/lab. The final lab session of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA course’s ‘Thinking and Experiencing Techne’ class took place in the relative comfort of the Blythe House […]

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