We are all excited to welcome you back to the V&A building this week! On Thursday 6 August, you can come to the museum in a socially distanced way. We will continue to have our weekly #LetsMakeWednesdays activities online.
To celebrate our reopening, let’s all make our own museums!
The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. It has a collection of over 2.3 million objects, dating from 5,000 years ago to the present day. There are objects from all sorts of creative work – architecture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, theatre and performing arts. There’s something for everyone.
At the V&A we often display objects that share similar themes together, like an object’s style, what it’s made from, who made it, or where it was made. For example, all the objects in Room 45 are from Japan, and all the objects in Room 129 are made from glass. Check out some of the different themes we have for our objects here.
Objects in the same room can share multiple themes. For example, both the objects above are from Japan and are also things people wear. Objects grouped together might share a theme but appear quite different. These objects above are made from different materials, made for different purposes and were made at different times. Making these links and comparisons between objects makes a display more interesting.
Let’s make our own collection
Now it’s time to put together your own collection.
- Choose a theme for your collection, making sure it is something interesting to you and something others may find interesting too. Objects could be from different places in your house and their uses might be very different. Ideas for your theme could include: things that are one colour, things that are stretchy, things that have a pattern, things that say something about your family? They can be types of leaves you collect on a walk near your house, or you can collect objects or draw pictures of the places you would like to visit. Your collection can be on anything!
- Collect objects from your house and select 6 – 10 objects that fit your theme. As you collect your objects remember to keep them safe. Treat every object like it is the most valuable thing you own. At the V&A we have team of people called Conservators who help to care for and protect our objects. Do your objects need any care or cleaning?
- Is there anything you would like to make to add to your collection to match your theme? At the V&A we often ask artists and designers to make something special for the museum. Create a drawing or paper sculpture to add to your collection.
Let’s put on an exhibition
Now that you have collected your objects together it’s time to put on an exhibition to show them to other people.
- Select a place for your exhibition in or around your house. How about a windowsill, a shelf or a table? Think about who will be able to see the exhibition from your selected location – your neighbours, your family, your friends?
- It’s now time to curate your exhibition. At the V&A we have a team of people called Curators, and it’s often part of their job to select objects for an exhibition and decide how they are displayed together. Look at the objects you have collected. How do you think they should be displayed? Do you want to put objects next to each other which share a similar shape, texture or size, or do you want to place objects together which are different to each other?
- Objects in a museum are often hung up or placed on plinths so that visitors can see them better. What could you use to display your objects? Could you place them on a box, on a cushion or on some coloured paper? Do you want to change the light around the objects – making it brighter or more dramatic? Can you hang up any objects up with string? Try a few different arrangements and remember it’s very important not damage your objects in the process. Ask for help from an adult.
- Now it’s time to give your exhibition a name and tell people what it’s about. Using paper and pencils, make a poster to advertise your exhibition. Check out some of the V&A’s previous exhibition posters here from the past 100 years for inspiration. Display your poster to attract people to your exhibition.
Let’s involve others
When the V&A opened in 1857, Henry Cole, the V&A’s first Director, declared that the Museum should be a “schoolroom for everyone”. He wanted the museum to teach people about design, manufacture, art and industry. Today the V&A has a Learning Team to help visitors of all ages learn more about the collection. This can be from special talks on the objects by experts, special visits for school or community groups, or even activities where visitors can try to make their own art inspired by the collection.
Now that you are ready to show off your exhibition, think about how you can create a learning activity for your exhibition visitors (friends, family or neighbours). Here are some ideas:
Give a tour of your exhibition / Bring together your visitors and tell them about how you created the exhibition and the things you had to consider. Ask them what they think about some of the different objects. What are their favourite objects and why? Can they make any links between the objects?
Create a drawing activity / Find a few extra pencils and sheets of paper. Ask your visitors to try drawing with their other hand, or without looking at the paper, or without taking their pencil off the page! Why not include their drawings in the exhibition at the end.
Create a story / Write a short story about the objects in your collection. This story could be based on truth or a story from your imagination. Can you include all the objects in the story? Read your story to your visitors and use the real objects to bring the tale to life. Can you get your visitors involved with a song, costumes or a dance move?
If you can’t get people to visit your exhibition face-to-face, why not lead your activity for them on a video call?
Don’t forget to share images of your exhibitions, posters and learning activities in action with us on social media using #LetsMakeWednesdays