The V&A is a global organisation, engaging with international contacts though cultural partnerships, trading, touring exhibitions, loans, professional consultancy, 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 2012, with 3.2 million visitors, the V&A was among the top five UK attractions. Around 43% of visits to the V&A in South Kensington, London, were made by overseas visitors: approximately 1.37 million visits. Visitors attracted by Britain's national museums generate substantial economic benefit for London and for the country. It has been estimated that in 2012 tourism contributed £126.9bn to the UK economy (Source: Visit Britain website).
International audiences worldwideIn 2012/13, the V&A loaned over 1,000 objects to over 100 venues across the world. A particular highlight was a loan to Russia for the exhibition The Golden Age of the English Court: from Henry VIII to Charles I (October 20012-January 2013). 140,000 visitors saw 140 V&A for the Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars exhibition at the V&A in March 2013. The exhibitions in Moscow and London celebrated 500 years of Anglo-Russian Tsars and the British Monarchy. This forms part of an increased programme of activities between the V&A and Russian colleagues in preparation for 2014, the upcoming UK/Russia Year of Culture.
International touring exhibitions and loans
The V&A has one of the largest international touring exhibition programmes in the world, with 17 exhibitions to 28 venues in 13 countries seen by over 1.5 million visitors. The 2012/2013 programme included Street Art: Contemporary Print from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Libya. This exhibition, a collaboration between the British Council Libya and the V&A, was created at the request of the Libyan Deputy Minister of Culture and Civil Society. Street Art toured to the Dar Al Fagi Hassan Art Gallery, Tripoli (March-April 2012) and the Kusar Al Manara Gallery, Benghazi (April 2012), presenting a cross-section of this transient and evolving genre from the decade. The first international exhibition held in Libya since the 2011 revolution, the exhibitions received nearly 3,000 visitors over 25 days. During this time V&A curators travelled to Libya to take part in education events and meet local artists and designers. The Libya Herald thanked the V&A for a “brilliant exhibition”. For more information please visit V&A International Touring.
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.
American Friends of the V&A and international supporters
The American Friends of the V&A is an independent charity based in New York that supports the work of the V&A by raising gifts towards acquisitions, exhibitions, scholarship and capital projects. It receives full tax exempt status from the IRS under section 501(c) (3) allowing United States taxpayers to receive tax deductions on gifts.
Please visit the AFV&A website for further information on donating to the AFV&A and the American Friends programme and activity.
Through the range and quality of the V&A's programme, the Museum has 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. Further information on international support can be found under Support Us.