Research Department

Design for New Museum Buildings South Kensington, albumen print, ca. 1860. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Design for New Museum Buildings South Kensington, albumen print, ca. 1860. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is the world's leading museum of art and design. It was established after the 1851 Great Exhibition with the radical, utilitarian and entrepreneurial aim of educating and inspiring the public. The Museum holds many of the UK's national collections and houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, jewellery, ceramics, the book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance and the cultures of childhood. 

Research is a core activity of the V&A, which was the first museum in the world to establish a dedicated Research Department. The V&A plays a leading role in binding together the fields of art, design and performance; conservation and collections management; and object-led, museum-based learning. The Research Department works with experts throughout the Museum and a wide range of external partners on research projects and publications (including the V&A Online Journal) as well as exhibitions and events. 

The V&A is closely connected to a range of universities and other educational institutions. It is home to the world's oldest postgraduate programme in the History of Design, part of a longstanding collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

Research Projects:

We coordinate and manage grant applications to research councils, charitable foundations and other funding bodies (including the AHRC, ESRC, EPSRC, European Research Council, British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, Getty Grant Programme and Kress Foundation). For some of the projects currently supported by external awards, see here.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are undertaking a pilot study that will help us to develop the V&A Research Institute (VARI). A programme of activities from July 2014 to September 2015 will use focused work on our textile collections to identify our larger aspirations and long-term needs. We will work with international partners to imagine a place where different kinds of knowledge can be brought to bear on all kinds of objects, shedding new light on the histories they carry, the questions they raise and the problems they pose; a place where an encyclopedic collection of materials and cultures can be used to explore the relationship between making and thinking; a place combining the functions of archive, laboratory and seminar room—something we might call a thing-tank and build into the world’s leading centre for museum-based, object-led research and teaching.'

Supporting Postgraduate Research:

We run – through a long-standing partnership with the Royal College of Art – the world's oldest postgraduate programme in the History of Design. Alumni from these programmes have entered the world of design at all levels including leading curators, journalists and design historians. Find out more about the course here.

We co-supervise a broad range of Arts and Humanities PhDs, and work with universities across the country to improve training in public engagement for doctoral students. The V&A is a member of six AHRC Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres for Doctoral Training. These consortia of universities and research organisations collaborate closely to provide innovative training environments for postgraduate students in the UK.

The Museum holds an award from the AHRC of twelve Collaborative Doctoral Partnership studentships, which are jointly supervised by V&A specialists along with UK university academics. Further information including how to propose a project is available here

Scholarly Exchanges and Visits:

We maintain a programme of exchanges with universities and museums in the UK, Europe and North America. These include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Bard Graduate Center in New York, the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and the University of York.

Visiting Fellowship applications can be found here. Please submit these forms via email to Katherine Elliott, Research Administrator.

Research Outputs

We host curators and scholars developing exhibitions, publications and other key research projects. We organise and support conferences, seminars and digital resources – including podcasts, blogs and the V&A Online Journal.

Strategic Projects

We coordinate and manage applications to research councils, foundations and other funding bodies (including the AHRC, European Research Council, British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Getty Grant Programme and the Kress Foundation).

Research Department staff

Professor Bill Sherman - Head of Research
Nicola Froggatt
- Research Grants Manager
Ghislaine Wood
- Senior Curator
Katherine Elliott
- Research Administrator
Elaine Tierney
- Research Report Editor
Abbie Doran
- Podcast Coordinator and Administrator

V&A/RCA Postgraduate Programme Staff

Angela McShane - Head of Renaissance and Early Modern Studies
Christine Guth
- Head of the Asian, Early Modern to Contemporary strand
Simona Valeriani
- Course Tutor
Marta Ajmar - Head of Postgraduate Programme
Katrina Royall
- Course Administrator

Exhibition and Project Staff currently working in the Research Department

Sonnet Stanfill - Curator of The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 – 2014 Exhibition
Lucia Savi - Research Assistant: Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition
Helen Persson - Curator of the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain Exhibition
Rosemary Crill - Senior Curator of the Indian Textiles Exhibition
Avalon Fotheringham - Research Assistant for the Indian Textiles Exhibition
Claire Wilcox - Senior Curator of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Exhibition
Kate Bethune - Senior Research Assistant for the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Exhibition
Louise Rytter - Research Assistant for the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Exhibition
Marta Weiss - Curator of the Julia Margaret Cameron Exhibition
Leah Armstrong - Research Officer for Mapping Social Design Project, V&A/University of Brighton
Meredith More - Assistant Curator for the Scottish Design Galleries Project, V&A Dundee

Research Fellows currently working in the Research Department

Donatella Barbieri, London College of Fashion/V&A Fellow in Design for Performance
Maurice Howard, Sussex University/V&A Exchange Fellow
Guy Julier, University of Brighton/V&A Fellow in Contemporary Design
Professor Sandra Kemp, Dr. Susan Weber Senior Research Fellow
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
Leanne Wierzba, Winchester School of Art/V&A Research Fellow in Craft/Luxury
Cher Potter, London College of Fashion/V&A Fellow in Futures/Design
Lina Hakim, Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Visiting Research Fellows

Sonia Ashmore, Kashmir Shawls

Lisa Skogh, The Kunstkammer and the Early Modern Consort: Knowledge, Networks and Influences
Diane Bilbey, ‘Britain Can Make It: A Dream of the Future’ (Retrospective publication to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ‘Britain Can Make it’ exhibition of 1946)

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD Students Based In the Research Department

Alistair Grant
Joanna Weddell
Edith Marie Pasquire
Zoe Boden

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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 - Discovering Rembrandt

Tue 10 February 2015 15:30

Join Christine Sitwell, Paintings Conservation Adviser for the National Trust, as she discusses the recently reattributed painting Self Portrait of Rembrandt to the master himself.

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