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.

Research is a core activity of the V&A, and it grows out of the Museum's original mission of advancing the arts and sciences that shape the world around us. The Research Department plays a central role in the Museum's efforts to improve access to and understanding of the collections entrusted to its care. We work with individuals and departments across the V&A and a wide range of external partners to make the world's oldest and largest museum of art and design a leading centre for the history, theory and practice of material culture.


Strategic 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 PhDs working at various universities in a wide range of fields, and play an important role in public engagement training for postgraduates across the country. The V&A is a named partner in six of the AHRC's new Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres for Doctoral Training, which run from 2014 to 2019 and provide innovative training environments for doctoral students. It is also a core member of the AHRC's Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships scheme, and currently offers four fully-funded studentships each year to projects based on our collections and co-supervised by Museum staff and university academics. Further information, including our annual call for proposals, 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, The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the University of York.

For further information about these programmes please contact Katherine Elliott.

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 the V&A Research Blog, Unmaking Things, podcasts and the V&A Online Journal.

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

Interactive Map

Discover the many treasures in the beautiful V&A galleries, find out where events are happening in the Museum or just check the location of the café, shops, lifts or toilets. Simple to use, the V&A interactive map works on all screen sizes, from your tablet or smartphone to your desktop at home.

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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 - Woven Stories: A History of Wool, Cotton, Linen and Silk

Wed 24 September 2014 14:00

10 WEEK COURSE: The history of cotton, linen, silk and wool include cheese-making and street style, the history of tartan and tweed, changing fashions in mourning, early aeronautical engineering, the wonders of African kente cloth and the relationship between the American Civil War, and the simultaneous decline of textile industries in Iran. Together these fibres present the history of textiles.

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