The V&A collects posters on an international scale, with over 10,000 objects in the Prints and Drawings Department, and significant holdings in other departments. The Museum has had an active collecting policy throughout the twentieth century and now holds the national collection.
Designing Democracy: Posters and the Political Transformation of Europe 1989–91
Between 1989 and 1991 a series of revolutions and political transformations swept across Central and Eastern Europe. During these momentous events, designers produced dozens of posters to record injustice and fill ‘gaps’ in official history, as well as to encourage people to join in the task of creating democracy. The V&A holds over 250 such political posters, which, as a result of the Children of the Revolution project, are available to view online using Search the Collections.
The term ‘poster’ originates from the medieval period when brief hand-written details of performances were handed out and stuck to posts in towns. By 1576, when the first public theatre in England opened, performances were announced by the distribution of handbills (as well as a drum procession through the streets, and by a flag hoisted at the theatre where the performance was taking place).