Foreword

 

Ten years ago the V&A embarked on FuturePlan, an ambitious project to restore comprehensively the Museum’s buildings and galleries, including the redisplay of the V&A’s historic collections. The first phase of FuturePlan ended in 2009 with the opening, to considerable acclaim, of the new Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, which have revealed the beauty of these magnificent collections to a wider public than ever before. The next phase of FuturePlan has already begun and will include new study centres for ceramics and textiles, a new furniture gallery, a new northern European Gothic sculpture gallery, the redisplay of the 17th- and 18th-century European collections and the restoration of the Lecture Theatre and the Cast Courts.

These projects involve all aspects of the Museum: curators, conservators, designers and technicians. Their success depends on continuing and extensive research: exciting discoveries are part of the everyday life of the Museum, and are reflected in our exhibitions and displays, publications and website content. The year’s exhibitions: Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design, Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, Decode: Digital Design Sensations, Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill,

and Quilts 1700–2010 all brought new knowledge and ideas from many eras and countries to a wide audience.

The V&A has also extended its geographic reach. V&A loans went to 254 locations in the UK and 354 overseas, while its travelling exhibitions were seen at 23 venues in Britain and 20 elsewhere, including India (where more than 500,000 people saw Indian Life and Landscape), the USA, and the Middle East. This included Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, and Estonia, which took our shows for the first time.

The number of V&A objects available online increased from about 50,000 to over a million and our website had 20 million visits. The online V&A Channel, launched this year, allows virtual visitors to find out about V&A activities, news, research and events in a fresh way. Actual visits to the V&A in South Kensington were up with over 30% being practitioners or students of art and design and record numbers also visited the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

In this difficult economic climate the V&A is as determined as ever to serve the public by spreading

appreciation and enjoyment of the visual world and we hope to encourage people of all ages to think about art and design and why it is so important to all our lives.

Paul Ruddock, Chairman