What V&A objects have you been searching for in 2017?

Digital Media
December 21, 2017
West elevation of the Science Schools (now the Henry Cole Wing of the Victoria and Albert Museum) and proposed extension in the same style, Sir Henry Cole, 1868, England, Museum No. E.2034-1921 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

For your holiday reading, we present the 20 most common searches on our Search the Collections site this year (as of today – this post will be updated in the new year with final numbers). As noted last year, this list is of searches where visitors have typed the word directly into the search box and doesn’t include those Search the Collections links from our Collections pages such as Photographs, South Asia and China. Also, variations in spellings and capitalisation will affect the statistics (e.g. “westwood”, “Westwood”, “Vivienne Westwood”, will all be counted as different searches). With all that said, the 20 are:

  1. Dress
  2. William Morris
  3. Fashion
  4. Embroidery
  5. Corset
  6. Wallpaper
  7. Balenciaga
  8. Chair
  9. Toys
  10. Jewellery
  11. Shoes
  12. Art Deco
  13. Furniture
  14. Textiles
  15. Ceramics
  16. Kimono
  17. Sculpture
  18. Art Nouveau
  19. Clothing
  20. Tapestry

In comparison with last year, whilst much of the list remains the same, some of the searches relate to events specific to this year, such as our current Balenciaga exhibition, whereas last year the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter caused a spike in searches.

Detector lock, John Wilkes, ca. 1680, Birmingham, Museum No. M.109-1926 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Spikes in Traffic

With over a million objects online the great joy for us is when one object has its own brief moment of internet fame. Here are some from through the year:

  • January – Discussion of billionaires’ basement extensions in the Guardian led readers onto this design for a chimney piece.
  • FebruaryAtlas Obscura readers discovered the vizard (‘face mask’) – a 17th century form of protection from sun-burn via this rare dolls version in our collection.
  • March – Readers of The Verge discovered that smart locks have been around a long time, with this 17th century ‘detector lock’ that records every time the door’s been opened.
  • AprilPersephone Books featured a perennial favourite, the Frankfurt Kitchen, on their blog.
  • May – A Dazed Digital article about the Comme des Garçons show at the Met discussed this jumper.
  • June – The opening of our new Exhibition Road Quarter entrance lead many Guardian readers to the original proposed plans for the entrance.
  • July –  The Manchester Tiara was celebrated by the Court Jeweller site.
  • August – This AskHistorians thread on Reddit gave some background on the different styles of clothes worn in the 19th century, with this gown given as an example.
  • September – A detailed analysis of costume films at Frock Flicks brings in our stays and busk for comparison.
  • October – One of the earliest objects in our collection, ‘False Principle No 16‘ was popular with users of the Chinese search engine Baidu, shortly before V&A at Design Society in Shekou opened.
  • November – Popular on Facebook was this late 19th century Sunflower knitting needle case.
  • DecemberReddit users discovered the ideal festive gift just in time – a pair of Grape Scissors. And users searching Google for a Robin Hood/Christmas cross-over will have been pleased to find this card:
Robin Hood & the Blackbird: a Tale of a Christmas Dinner, Marcus Ward & Co. (publisher), second half 19th century, London & Belfast, Museum No. 29324:3 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Merry Christmas!

About the author

Digital Media
December 21, 2017

Is a web developer at the V&A interested in data and systems, and the complicated connections between them. ORCID: 0000-0002-3177-1313

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