V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood

V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood is one of the most important industrial collections in the world and a unique record of 260 years of British ceramic production. Owned by the V&A following a successful fundraising campaign spearheaded by Art Fund, it is on display at Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, where an imaginative public programme celebrates the diversity, creativity and depth of the collection, within its local context of North Staffordshire and the Potteries.

The factory was founded by the British potter and entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood in 1759, who transformed English pottery from a cottage craft into an art form and an international industry. The Wedgwood family and business had a keen sense of its place in history and started the Wedgwood Collection in the 18th century. A museum has existed since 1906, first at the Etruria Factory site and then from 1952 at Barlaston. The new museum opened in 2008 winning the Art Fund Museum of the Year Prize in 2009. It is the finest collection of Wedgwood ceramics documenting production up to the present day, showcasing developments in taste and fashion over three centuries.

Wedgwood Tray of Jasper Trials. © Wedgwood

Today, V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood comprises over 80,000 works of art, ceramics, manuscripts and photographs charting the factory history, designs and production. It was saved for the nation and gifted to the V&A in 2014 following a major public appeal organised by Art Fund, generously supported by thousands of individuals, companies and grant-making foundations, including significant support from the Heritage Fund and Art Fund.

Wedgwood Portland Vase. © Wedgwood

Around 8,000 objects are currently on display, including iconic Jasperware vases, black basalt vases and ornaments, bone china tea-sets and vases inspired by Robert Adam. These testify both to Josiah Wedgwood's creative genius and the company's productivity together with the 1780 portrait of the Wedgwood family by George Stubbs. The museum showcases both the commercial and aesthetic history of ceramics, including earthenware, creamware, jasper and basalt production as well as charting the changing fashions of rococo and neo-classical pottery.

Second Wedgwood Pattern Book, about 1811. © Wedgwood
Background image: Wedgwood Jasperware 20th century. © Wedgwood