Tales from the Archives

Through Tales from the Archives we plan to share with you interesting facts about the history of the V&A and hidden stories from our various archives, keep you informed about our current and future projects, give you sneak previews of our new acquisitions and insights into what it is like to run a busy archive service.

The Victoria and Albert Museum Archives comprise:
The Archive of Art and Design (AAD), which collects, conserves and makes available for research the archives of individuals, associations and companies involved in design and the applied arts
The Beatrix Potter Collections), which constitute the world’s largest assemblage of Beatrix Potter’s drawings, literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and related materials
The V&A Archive, which manages the Museum’s institutional records and supports research into the collections and history of the V&A, and the broader history of art and design.

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Explore Your Archive

Behind the scenes: The V&A Archives

Monday 17 November (2.00 pm) Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London W14 0QX The Victoria and Albert Museum invites you to discover some of the amazing stories hidden within its extensive archives as part of the Explore Your Archive campaign Archives across the UK and Ireland are taking part to raise awareness of the value of […]

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New archive subject guide to the India Museum and Indian Collections

Tippoo’s Tiger – a large wooden semi-automaton of a tiger devouring an unlucky European gentleman – is one of the V&A’s most popular exhibits. In the V&A Archive we’ve seen a growing interest in our documentary holdings relating to the history of the India Museum and growth of the Indian Collections. These holdings include acquisition […]

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CIS:4974-1910

Skeletons in the vaults; or, the V&A bone collectors

The Archive’s S.Ex register makes for interesting reading – but not for the reason its suggestive title may have duped us momentarily into thinking! S.Ex (or School Examples) objects were acquired for the V&A’s Circulation Department between 1882 and 1892, and used largely for still life cases, modelling or anatomical study. Of the approximately 1,200 […]

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Pattern for a Chesterfield coat, ca.1911 - ca.1928. Archive of Art and Design, AAD/2008/10/1/5/3. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

WW1 Era Clothing: Archive of Art and Design Resources for Re-enactors and Costumers

The centenary of the beginning of World War One this year has inspired re-enactors and costumers to take up their needles and explore the clothing of the period. I’d have been tempted to join in myself if I wasn’t suffering from sewing fatigue from my last project, a 1760s Rococo sacque back gown, which was […]

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An Unknown Soldier? The V&A’s First World War Memorial

Simple and solemn in cream Hopton Wood stone, the V&A’s monument to its 1914-18 war dead sits unobtrusively in the main entrance hall. Designed in 1919 by the sculptor and typographer Eric Gill, it was commissioned by the Museum with the dual aims of commemorating the fallen and acquiring an example of Gill lettering. As […]

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It’s a cover-up! Interior design at the South Kensington Museum

Something caught my eye in this old photograph of the V&A’s North Court taken in the late 19th century: The North Court in the late 19th century. Museum no. E.1101-1989. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London You may not recognise this space but you’ll have been in it if you’ve seen any of the V&A’s […]

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David Garrick

Calling all book detectives: Garrick’s Plato

When challenged by an irate David Garrick (1717-1779), the celebrated actor, dramatist and theatre manager, who had discovered that titan of eighteenth-century letters, Dr Johnson (1709-1784), throwing elegantly bound books around his (Garrick’s) private study, Johnson is reputed to have offered this churlish excuse: ‘I was determined to examine your collection and find it consists […]

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International Archives Day: New Art Furniture exhibition 1901 – an ‘exceedingly vulgar show’

Today is International Archives Day (yes, we have our own day!) so I thought I’d use our archives to illustrate one of the more controversial episodes in the V&A’s otherwise long and distinguished history of object collecting and display. ‘An exceedingly vulgar show’ (The Times) ‘Ill-mannered specimens of upstart art … the delirious art of men […]

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Sent to Nottingham: the diary of a nineteenth-century curator (2)

 “5th JuneInterview with Mr Richards and Mr Fussell long discussion with them about the room in which the collection should be placed opposed Mr Fussell’s plan of placing in the back or work room, saw other members of the committee – and it was finally settled that the collection should be exhibited in the Library […]

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Gabrielle Enthoven

Introducing Enthoven

It is now 90 years since Gabrielle Enthoven’s gift of 80,000 playbills, engravings, photographs, manuscripts and books was accepted by the museum after a decade-long campaign. In life Enthoven was indefatigable, had a considerable public profile and a gift for publicity that earned her the nickname ‘the theatrical encyclopedia’. Since her death she has become […]

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