100 years of V&A exhibition posters

Delve into our archives and discover a weird and wonderful selection of V&A exhibition posters from 1915 – 2015.

We've taken a look back at some of the long-forgotten exhibitions enjoyed by a century of museum-goers. Exhibition design has changed radically since the V&A was founded as the 'Museum of Manufactures' in 1852, with rows of glass display cases giving way to fully immersive and theatrical blockbuster exhibitions, with advertising campaigns to match. This selection of posters, all promoting V&A exhibitions, charts changing tastes, interests and developments in cultural heritage design across the 20th century. Many date from the 1960s and 70s (when we began comprehensively acquiring our exhibition posters as museum objects), and promote touring exhibitions mounted by the now-defunct Circulation Department (1909 –1978) – the first V&A department responsible for collecting 20th-century design. While some exhibitions now seem charmingly niche – Corn Dollies, Canal Boat Art, The Rural Chair – others were forward-thinking, from Pop Graphics to Modern Photography.

So dig out your rose-tinted spectacles, dust off your macramé and take a trip back in time through our slideshow below. View in fullscreen mode for the best experience.

Find out about our current exhibitions and touring exhibition programme.
Read more with our book, The Poster: A Visual History.