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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GUEST POST – Design Review: An International Anthology of Design Award-Winning Consumer Products, 1975

Richard Sapper, Tizio, desk lamp, 1971

Guest post by Joanna Weddell, who holds an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the V&A Museum and the University of Brighton researching Disseminating Design, a project on the post-war regional impact of the V&A Circulation Department.   This post is in memory of Carol Hogben (1925-2016), member of staff at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1950-1986. A significant moment in the history […]

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New display opens – David Garrick: Book Collector

David Garrick

This display marks the tercentenary of the birth of David Garrick (1717-79), celebrated actor, playwright and Drury Lane theatre manager. ‘Isn’t that next year?’ you ask. Well, yes, but we’re starting the celebrations early at the V&A! In fact, on one occasion, Garrick himself seems to have been uncertain of his age, reminding his brother Peter on […]

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Henry Cole’s “Vertical Stands”: early display cases at the V&A

Pillar stand with rotating frame

No sooner had the new South Kensington Museum flung open its doors than its senior officers were agitating for additional space for the display of objects. In 1859, J. C. Robinson, the Museum’s first Superintendent of the Art Collections, complained in his annual report that ‘at the present time the nature and extent of the space […]

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The metamorphosis of Anton Prinner


Metamorphose; Print by Anton Prinner entitled 'Metamorphose'.  France, 1934.
Anton Prinner (1902-1983)

Last week I was excited to discover a transgender artist in the collection called Anton Prinner.  Born in Hungary in 1902, he moved to Paris at the end of the Roaring Twenties, where he changed his name to Anton and requested that people address him with male pronouns.  Paris at the time was the epicentre […]

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Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter!

Beatrix Potter photographed aged 9.

The author and illustrator Beatrix Potter recalled one of her birthdays, her tenth, in her journal: “I remember so clearly – as clearly as the brightness of rich Scotch sunshine on the threadbare carpet – the morning I was ten years old – and my father gave me Mrs Blackburn’s book of birds, drawn from […]

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Curios in the Archive: Elkington Family Treasures

Photograph: old lady
1 item

As an Archives Assistant in the Archive of Art and Design, one task that I am charged with is the box listing and cataloguing of archives. This can be a very interesting process and sometimes leads to the cataloguer making new and exciting discoveries. This is particularly true of personal papers within our collections. One […]

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International Archives Day: What happened to Gallery 130?


 Today, 9 June, is International Archives Day, one aim of which is to  ‘promote and bring to the attention of the larger public unique,  extraordinary and rare documents preserved in archival  institutions’. This year’s theme is ‘Archives, Harmony and  Friendship’ – but as you’ll see, I’ve strayed off-piste… A couple of months ago I received […]

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Harold Cohen and ‘A Tapestry for Today’

Harold Cohen, Over All, 1967

Guest blog by Joanna Weddell, who holds an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the V&A Museum and the University of Brighton researching Disseminating Design, a project on the post-war regional impact of the V&A Circulation Department. This blog commemorates the artist Harold Cohen (1928-2016). In 1968 the V&A Circulation Department (Circ) sent the travelling exhibition A Tapestry for Today to schools of […]

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Colour In Our Collections


It seems as if everyone has gone colouring book mad, so what better time to share some examples we have in the archive and offer a chance for you to have a go yourself? One of the most fascinating collections we hold at Blythe House is the Renier Collection, the largest special collection of children’s […]

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Easter Tours of the Galleries with Miss Spiller, 1938

The Luck of Edenhall

On 6 February 1938, Ethel M Spiller, O.B.E., accepted an invitation to conduct two one-hour tours of the galleries on Easter Sunday (17 April). According to the press notice issued on 11 April, the 2.45pm tour would deal with ‘Selected Masterpieces’ and the 4pm tour with ‘English Domestic Arts in the time of Shakespeare’. The […]

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