In this section, we invite you ‘behind the scene’ to discover the breadth of our work in and with countries around the world. We hope the stories posted will initiate new discussions with our museum colleagues from overseas as well as our public in the UK and abroad.
The V&A is an international organisation, with global relevance, collections, audiences, exhibitions and relationships. The importance of V&A’s international engagement can be traced back to 1852 when the V&A was founded as a new kind of museum. Indeed, the Museum did not start with a collection nor a building but began with an unusually practical purpose which was to address the growing anxiety that Britain, though pre-eminent in manufacturing, was losing ground to competitors in the field of design. In 1836 a parliamentary select committee was created and recommended that the government should intervene by setting up a new school of design. The school opened a year later and immediately set about establishing a collection – the content of which was intended as examples from which the students could learn.
The Museum’s collections originated from this very pragmatic aim which was to bring together the best examples of design and ornamental art from across the world for the purpose of learning and raising the standard of British Design in an era of rapid industrialization.
Today, staff across the Museum operate on a global scale via institutional partnership agreements, overseas trading, provision of consultancy services, touring exhibitions and capacity building initiatives. Staying in tune with creative practitioners internationally and taking part to global discussions and research related to the role of design and creative industries remain a core aspect of our mission. We hope to share through this blog some of these international adventures which enable us to carry on engaging with colleagues, audiences, scholars and creative practitioners across borders, open our minds and broaden our horizon.