Our international work
The V&A is a global organisation, engaging with international contacts though cultural partnerships, trading, touring exhibitions, loans, advice and skills sharing. International work brings benefits to the Museum and its visitors by enriching our knowledge and expertise - allowing us to make sense of our collections, attracting new audiences, and building our reputation and brand. International work opens up the V&A collections to international audiences through online resources, loans and exhibitions, and international partnerships.
International audiences in London
In 2010/11, around 43% of visits to the V&A in South Kensington, London, were made by overseas visitors: approximately 1.16 million visitors. Visitors attracted by Britain's national museums generate substantial economic benefit for London and for the country. It has been estimated that tourism contributed £115.4bn to the UK economy (Source: Visit Britain website).
International audiences worldwide
In 2010/11,over 1.54 million people saw V&A international touring exhibitions at 16 venues around the world. In addition, just under 3000 objects were loaned to other museum's exhibitions or displays around the world.
Vivienne Westwood remains the most widely toured exhibition, and has shown in 10 venues on 4 continents. The exhibition was seen by almost 700,000 visitors in total. Art Deco had 1.4million visitors in London, the US, Japan, Canada and Australia. Surreal Things received over 650, 000 visitors at its two European venues.
The V&A recognises the importance of working internationally to open up collections to a global audience and to share knowledge and expertise. Sometimes these relationships are formalised through Memoranda of Understanding. The V&A currently have Memoranda of Understanding in place with museums in India, China and the US. V&A staff regularly exchange professional advice and support with museums around the world through workshops, collaborative projects and curatorial exchanges and formal scholarship programmes, such as the Nehru Trust, which awards research grants to Indian museum professionals.
The V&A website is a key tool for reaching global audiences and sharing our resources internationally. Approximately 40% of visits to the V&A website each year are now from overseas users, reflecting the international nature of our collections.
The V&A is aware of the need to increase accessibility to non-English speaking visitors. The main V&A website provides essential information in ten languages. Chinese language pages were introduced in May 2006 that attract about 100,000 visits per month. Japanese languages pages were launched in March 2011 and other language pages are currently in development for our international visitors.
International strategy for V&A Enterprises
International collaborations are at the heart of our highly successful retail arm, V&A Enterprises. Inspired by the V&A collections, V&A Enterprises work with weavers in India, studio ceramicists in Turkey, jewellery designers in Japan and embroiderers in Kashmir to bring together the absolute best of world-wide product design for visitors to the V&A.
Over the past 10 years VAE has created a commercial demand for its publications and products, building a brand that reflects the Museum's fundamental values in inspiring design. V&A books are promoted and distributed internationally; international rights are sold to overseas publishers all over the world and in dozens of different languages. Licensees work with those aspects of the brand that will help them reach their chosen market, traditionally in Japan and the US but more recently in Dubai and Korea. Through a series of agency partnerships in the US, Far East and Europe, V&A Images are also building an international presence, and the online V&A Shop reaches markets for V&A designs and books across the world. As the V&A touring exhibition programme continues to grow, so do the international markets for publishing, licensing and retail.
Through the range and quality of the V&A's programme, we have built a network of supporters across Asia, Europe and North America. This network is strengthened through the work of the American Friends of the V&A and through all those who host events to celebrate our touring exhibitions. Travel with the V&A, a programme of cultural tours for our supporters, encourages further international networking. We are deeply grateful to all those who make our international work possible. Further information on international support can be found under Support Us.