Research Department

Research is a core activity of the Victoria and Albert Museum helping to develop the public understanding of the art and artefacts of many of the great cultures of the world. The Research Department facilitates and develops research into the V&A's collections and connects the Museum to the wider world of research in Art and Design.

The Research Department, part of the Collections Division, works with other Museum departments to further the role of research in the V&A. It aims to maintain the lively and stimulating research culture that underpins exhibitions, scholarly and popular publications (paper and electronic), gallery development, postgraduate teaching, conferences and seminars.

As well as a dedicated team of researchers and academics, the department hosts a permanent staff as well as temporary exhibition teams working on forthcoming events at the V&A, researchers seconded from the Museum’s curatorial and Conservation departments who are preparing future publications, and externally funded fellows. It is also the home for some of the Museum’s web-based projects - including the new V&A Online Journal.

The department forges links with external bodies and expertise, for example through a programme of AHRC-funded partnerships with universities. Research funding or support in kind also comes from charitable trusts (such as the British Academy, the Getty Grant Programme, the Kress Foundation, Yale Centre for the Study of British Art) or from UK higher educational institutions (including at present the Royal College of Art, University of Arts London, Birkbeck College; the Universities of Sussex, Brighton, Warwick, West of England, Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, University College London and the London College of Fashion). These partnerships bring considerable resources to the V&A each year to support research.

MA courses in the History of Design

The V&A has worked in a special partnership with the Royal College of Art for over 25 years to offer postgraduate study programmes incuding the world renowned MA programme in the History of Design which makes a direct contribution to research into the V&A collections. Alumni from these programmes have entered the world of design at all levels including leading curators, journalists and design historians.

The department houses three postgraduate MA courses in the History of Design, run jointly with the Royal College of Art :

  • Asian Design History - 1400 to the present
  • Design and Material Culture, 1650 to the Present
  • Renaissance Decorative Arts and Culture, 1400–1650

Find out more about  V&A/RCA MA Courses.

Research Department staff

Professor Bill Sherman - Head of Research

Professor Sherman is Head of Research, on secondment from the University of York, where he was founding director of the Centre for Renaissance & Early Modern Studies. He earned his BA from Columbia and his PhD from Cambridge, and he has held visiting positions at Caltech, Queen Mary University of London and Bard Graduate Center. He has published widely on the history of books and readers and the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and his current project explore the interface between word and image and the relationship between knowledge and power. He supervises all activities in the Research Department and is leading its Mellon-funded Pilot Project toward the creation of a V&A Research Institute.

Nicola Froggatt - Research Grants Manager

Nicola supports the Head of Research to identify and secure funding for Museum research activities, principally from academic grants and secondarily from private sources. She also acts as a liaison to the V&A Development department. Before joining the V&A, Nicola has worked at the University of Oxford and Research Councils UK.

Angela McShane - Course Tutor

Angela McShane is Tutor in Graduate studies (post 1600) for the joint RCA/V&A MA in History of Design, she supervises all levels of postgraduate research and helps to facilitate curatorial research and writing for exhibitions and V&A and other publications. She gained her first degree in History from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, a P.G.C.E. from the University of Leicester and, after a career in secondary and tertiary history teaching, her PHD from the University of Warwick in 2005. Read more on

Christine Guth - Course Tutor

Christine Guth leads the Asian Specialism on the V&A/RCA MA History of Design Course. She received her PhD in Fine Arts at Harvard University, where she studied Japanese art history. She has taught at institutions including Princeton, Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley Universities and curated shows at The Japan Society, New York, Katonah Museum of Art and LACMA .

Simona Valeriani - Course Tutor

Simona Valeriani is Tutor in Graduate Studies and specialises in the 17th and 18th centuries, having a particular interest in the history of technology and in global connections. She graduated in Architecture at the University of Genoa (Italy), specialising in history and conservation, she earned her PhD at the Technische Universität in Berlin (Germany), after participating in a PhD programme in History of Art, Building Archaeology and Theory of Conservation, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. She joined the V&A/RCA History of Design programme in 2012, after having worked for several years in the Economic History Department at the London School of Economics.

Marta Ajmar – Head of Postgraduate Programme

Marta Ajmar gained her PhD from the Warburg Institute and leads the Renaissance Strand of the V&A/RCA MA course. Between 2002 and 2006 she directed the research and exhibition project, funded by the Getty Foundation and the AHRC, for the major V&A exhibition 'At Home in Renaissance Italy'. She is currently working with Luca Molà (Warwick University) on a new exhibition project, exploring globalization in the early modern period (The Global Renaissance).

Katrina Royall - Course Administrator

Katrina's role involves assisting with the running of the V&A/RCA MA Course in the History of Design

Katherine Elliott - Research Administrator

Katherine is responsible for administration within the Research department. She also assists with the running of the V&A/RCA MA Course in the History of Design.

Research Fellows currently working in the Research Department

Donatella Barbieri, London College of Fashion/V&A Fellow in Design for Performance
Gavin Grindon, Kingston University London Research Fellow
Maurice Howard, Sussex University/V&A Exchange Fellow
Guy Julier, University of Brighton/V&A Fellow in Contemporary Design
Professor Sandra Kemp, V&A Honorary Senior Research Fellow, The Future: A History
Matthew Partington, University of West England/V&A Fellow in Twentieth Century Craft
Linda Sandino, University of the Arts/V&A Fellow in Oral History
Carol Tulloch, University of the Arts/V&A Fellow in Black Visual Culture

Visiting Scholars

Sonia Ashmore, Kashmir Shawls
Ann Compton, Casts and Material Cultures
Cher Potter, Futurism

A gift in your will

You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. It is not just the great collectors and the wealthy who leave legacies to the V&A. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have.


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Baroque: Magnificence & Style (Paperback)

Baroque: Magnificence & Style (Paperback)

The complexity and sophistication of Baroque art, developed through the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, could be understood as an attempt …

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Event - CreateInsights: Being a... Research Assistant of The Glamour of Italian Fashion, 1945 - 2014

Fri 16 May 2014 18:30

YOUNG PEOPLE'S EVENT: Meet one of the V&A’s Research Assistants and find out more about the research process that led up to this large scale exhibition.

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