What V&A objects have you been searching for in 2019


Digital Media
December 20, 2019
Dame Edna's Breakfast Dress, Stephen Adnitt (designer), 1997, London. Museum no. S.3400-2015. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Welcome to the V&A’s top 20 search terms of 2019!

It’s been a big year for polls, but there is only one count that matters, the annual top searches on the V&A Collections website. As always, a brief background on the methodology. This is a list of searches where visitors have typed the term directly into our search box. It doesn’t include direct links to our Search the Collections pages from elsewhere on the website. Also, variations in spellings and capitalisation will affect the statistics (e.g. ‘photography’, ‘Photography’ and ‘photos’ will all be counted as different searches). So without further ado, the top 20 terms are:

  1. dress
  2. corset
  3. william morris
  4. toys
  5. fashion
  6. dior
  7. wallpaper
  8. kimono
  9. chair
  10. embroidery
  11. jewellery
  12. ceramics
  13. shoes
  14. art deco
  15. clothing
  16. furniture
  17. india
  18. glass
  19. china
  20. textiles

Collection spikes

Every year, some unexpected objects in our collections have their moment in the sun, thanks to press coverage or social media. This year was no exception so here’s a highlight from each month of 2019:
  • January – The Guardian highlighted the upcoming Dior exhibition with a mention of the iconic bar suit
  • February – In this joint-bicentenary year of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s birth, many Google searchers landed on this medal of Prince Albert, made when he was installed as Chancellor of Cambridge University.
  • March – A scholar’s suggested attribution of a famous sculpture in our collection,  The Virgin with the laughing Child, to the young Leonardo Da Vinci caused quite a stir in the 500th anniversary year of his death.
  • April – The opening of the Laughing Matters display in the British Galleries brought Financial Times readers onto Dame Edna’s typically understated breakfast dress
  • May – Although the Balenciaga exhibition closed at the V&A in 2018, the popularity of this ‘baby doll’ evening dress never ends.
  • June – Perhaps web searchers planning a Californian holiday stumbled across the Bel Air Chair?
  • July – As featured in the Fashioned from Nature exhibition earlier in the year, the spectacular Insect Wing Dress drew much fascination.
  • August – Community weblog MetaFilter lead uses to discover this children’s puzzle containing mercury, a toxic metal now banned from use in manufacturing.
  • September – Visitors from Facebook found this Quilt (considered the oldest in Eruope) depicting a tale from the Tristan and Isolde stories of King Languis of Ireland, a favourite medieval narrative.
  • October – Halloween brought Guardian readers looking for costume ideas to Schiaparelli’s sinister Skeleton Dress
  • November – The Red Blue Chair attracted visitors, perhaps swotting up with BBC Bitesize.
  • December – Twitter users discovered (just in time for winter) some very long-lasting socks
The Tristan Quilt, ca. 1360-1400, Sicily, Museum no. 1391-1904, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Merry Christmas and happy searching in 2020!

About the author


Digital Media
December 20, 2019

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

More from Richard Palmer
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