Tag: Oral History Project


The V&A Oral History project documents the everyday lives of its staff in order to map the changes in the Museum’s curatorial practices since the post-war period. From stories about life behind-the-scenes to reflective accounts about subject expertise, these extracts offer an insight into the past and present culture of the V&A.

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Teapot, 19th century, made in Ladakh, N W India.
Silver gilt, silver and brass gilt, with inset turquoise. 
Silver gilt, silver and brass gilt, with inset turquoise IM.112-1927

‘Magical’ Research trip to N W India

Oral histories have the capacity to transport us not just across time but across space.  Stories are in a sense a kind of ‘object’ encompassing trajectories of affect and sensation which is why I found this account by Dr John Clarke, curator of the Himalayan and southeast Asian collections, so compelling.  He describes a research trip he made in 1986 to the Zanskar Valley, […]

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William Morris and the Hammersmith Socialist League, c.1880
© Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Romantic idealists

  In 1947, the immediate post-war period, the V&A Circulation department recruited three women who were to become legendary curators in their own V&A lifetime and beyond: Elizabeth Aslin (furniture), Shirley Bury (metalwork) and Barbara Morris (textiles, glass and ceramics).  In the late 1940s, a time of progressive socialism not just austerity, Bury and Morris […]

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Cigarette box, made by Archibald Knox, made in Birmingham, UK, 1903-4. M.15-1970
Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

The Bed Box

Wonderful story about how the Museum acquired a silver box, as well as drawings, by Archibald Knox from the potter Rosemary Wren.  The speaker is David Coachworth who came to work in the V&A in 1963, now retired. Rosemary’s mother, the potter Denise Wren, had been a student of Knox’s and couldn’t resist buying the box with money she was supposed […]

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