Capturing moments at the Museum

Digital Media and Publishing
August 14, 2017

Last week, for the first time, one of our videos reached 1 million views on Facebook. The film shows the embroiders at the Sankalan studio in Jaipur, and as their work is done so quickly it would be difficult to see what’s happening with the naked eye. This is a skill that takes years to learn, but only by slowing down the footage does the making process become visible.

Another video made by our Motion Media team, which shows how a traditional Korean laquer box is made, was posted on 30 July and has already collected over 70,000 views (as well as 1,000 shares) in under a week. These two films were produced to accompany temporary exhibitions, but relate to objects in our permanent exhibitions.

The recent launch of the Exhibition Road Quarter was accompanied by a week-long festival of events called REVEAL. We caught as many of those as we could, one a day, live (including a fantastic performance by The Farinelli Quartet from the Royal College of Music in The Norfolk House Music Room. These live moments made the Museum more accessible to more people – many of whom might not have been able to come along in person. And sometimes the events were so popular it was tricky to get in.

Boiler Room, 30 June 2017. Image © Hydar Dewachi

For the opening of the Exhibition Road Quarter the Content Team set out to accompany all of that live material with an online history of the museum, placing the new entrance in the context of the ongoing development of the South Kensington site, and talking about some of our most spectacular spaces. There is also – of course – 100 facts about the V&A.

Cast Courts, Room 46a, The West Court, viewed from Gallery 111, drawing, Henry Edward Tidmarsh, England. Museum no. E.2384-1983. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This combination of capturing transitive moments of performance, and providing the historical context of the building they happened in, was important to our content planning. We wanted to show the live events as they happened on social platforms, while providing a record of the building’s story in a dedicated online collection, where we can host it in a more permanent way. We also published, with Lund Humphries, a book written by Julius Bryant on Designing the V&A, which accompanies a display of the same name. We’re trying to provide different ways of seeing the old with the new, with our live broadcasts working with our web content and our publishing – all coming together to provide different, complementary, ways of exploring what’s going on the Museum.

It was interesting to think how we can represent the V&A as a place of many fleeting instants, when so much of what we do is about permanence. The Museum has to be able to capture events that are out of reach for an audience for whatever reason – either because they’re too quick, or too far away – but we also have to be able to put those moments into context through our web content and publishing. Our REVEAL festival has happened now, but it’s preserved in video. For me, the lightning embroidery in Jaipur finds a new kind of longevity when it has been seen by a million people.

About the author

Digital Media and Publishing
August 14, 2017

I am Head of Content at the V&A, working across publishing, the website and video.

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