The V&A Archive

Selection of photography exhibition posters, 1999-2002, held in the V

Selection of photography exhibition posters, 1999-2002, held in the V&A Archive.

What is in the V&A Archive?

The institutional archives of the V&A and its predecessor organisations date from 1837 to the present day, providing a rich resource for the study of the history and influence of the Museum. The archives held include files relating to the acquisition of Museum objects; the organisation of V&A exhibitions; and the policies and development of the Museum. There are also inventories, ephemera and posters; photographs of the Museum, its objects and staff; volumes of press cuttings relating to the V&A and the art-world; architectural plans and models.

What can be researched at the V&A Archive?

  • The acquisition and provenance of the V&A's objects and also details of objects lent to the Museum
  • Information about specific individuals or institutions and their relationships with the V&A
  • The work of the 'Art Referees', such as Walter Crane, William Morris etc.
  • Exhibitions held within the V&A or to which the Museum lent objects

    Pages of a letter from William Morris dated 20 Dec 1886 recommending the purchase of a tapestry depicting the story of the Trojan War (museum number 6-1887). Archive reference MA/1/D1995

    Pages of a letter from William Morris dated 20 Dec 1886 recommending the purchase of a tapestry depicting the story of the Trojan War (museum number 6-1887). Archive reference MA/1/D1995 (click image for larger version)

    Pages of a letter from William Morris dated 20 Dec 1886 recommending the purchase of a tapestry depicting the story of the Trojan War (museum number 6-1887). Archive reference MA/1/D1995 (click image for larger version)

  • The histories and development of the V&A and its predecessors, including the Government School of Design, the Museum of Ornamental Art at Marlborough House and the South Kensington Museum
  • The history of the V&A's branch museums the Museum of Childhood and the Theatre Museum, and its overseeing of the Ham, Osterley and Apsley Houses
  • The architectural history of the V&A
  • The V&A's corporate identity
  • The history and work of specific Museum departments
  • The V&A's staff
  • Cultural developments and events with which the V&A was associated e.g. the international exhibitions of the nineteenth century or the progress of art education
  • Particular periods of history or social history e.g. the V&A during wartime
  • Museology in general
 

Study guides

The following pages describe some popular topics of study relating to the V&A’s collections, buildings and history. They describe the books, manuscripts, photographs and other sources which are available in the V&A Archive, and offer some introductory guidance to their use.

Suffragettes and the V&A (PDF, 55.57 KB)

Nineteenth-Century International Exhibitions (PDF, 127.92 KB)

Researching Museum Objects using the V&A Archive (PDF, 108 KB)

Sources for the History of the V&A's Buildings (PDF, 76 KB)

Exhibitions at the V&A (PDF, 174 KB)

Loan Collections and Special Loan Exhibitions (PDF, 413 KB)

The V&A during wartime (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Sources for the Study of Marketing in the V&A Archive (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Art Referees (PDF, 99 KB)

 

How to find out more

Lists and indexes for the V&A Archive are not yet available online, although some files that include correspondence with renowned artists, designers and craftspeople are listed in the Artists' Papers Register

Current or recent information about the V&A is available through the Museum's Publication Scheme or may be requested in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. For further information see http://www.vam.ac.uk/about_va/freedom_info/index.html. Please be aware that some information, such as personal data or information supplied to the V&A in confidence, may be exempt from disclosure under the Act.

Further details of how to make enquiries and access the archives can be found on the Archives homepage

Please note that published resources relating to the V&A and its history are held in the National Art Library.

V&A Archive contact details:

V&A Archive
Blythe House,
23 Blythe Road,
London
W14 0QX

Tel: +44 (0)20 7602 8832
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