The V&A Research Institute (VARI)

Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation the V&A Research Institute (VARI) is a five-year programme of projects and partnerships, which take the V&A’s pioneering research culture into an exciting new phase allowing the Museum to experiment with new ways of storing, displaying and studying its collections. This blog will give voice to VARI’s team of experts, academic scholars, practicing artists and volunteers.

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The psychedelic Leman silk

Figure 2 - the Leman textile and the corresponding design next to one another

  Serendipity is a wonderful concept: it applies very clearly to the Leman Album, which has been discussed before in many other blog entries. We had already started our multidisciplinary investigation of the Album, when a length of brocaded silk, clearly made from one of Leman designs we own, was offered for sale to the […]

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Sound in Museums Part 3: Ten Golden Rules by Prof Eric De Visscher

Radio RT-20 (1963) (design by Dieter Rahm) Museum No: W.13-2007

As part of my tenure at VARI, two interdisciplinary workshops were held, gathering V&A staff members and practitioners from various fields. These workshops, pointing towards the concept of the multisensory museum, took place in the context of the V&A’s own plans in East London and acknowledge the growing presence of sonic thinking in contemporary culture. […]

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Tricks with Strings, guest blog by Rachel Warr

Tiller Clowes Troop puppets

The VARI Encounters on the Shop Floor project has a few small micro teams called Design Clusters, made up of creative individuals using different kinds of arts practices to investigate embodied knowledge.  That is, the knowledge and skills which can be found in our hands as much as in our brains – almost like an extension of muscle memory. One of […]

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Jean Qui Pleure and the struggle with reading (Part II)

Though uncomfortable for us to look at, Jean Qui Pleure, like so many objects on display at the Museum of Childhood, forces us as viewers to do the necessary work of considering the darker side of the social and cultural history of childhood. This object is in some ways testament to the experience of schooling […]

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Jean Qui Pleure and the struggle with reading (Part I)

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested” (Francis Bacon, Essays (1625), ‘Of Studies’)   Wearing a version of the “dunce cap”, not classically conical but clearly identifiable by the attached donkey ears and worn out inscription of the word “dunce”, Jean holds his book […]

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Open call for sustainable fashion and textile design residency

  Greenpeace Detox Catwalk in Bandung © Greenpeace/ Hati Kecil Visuals. We are delighted to announce our second residency open call of the year, this time for a UK-based fashion or textile designer working with sustainable materials or processes (eg. circular economy, zero-waste design etc.) Coinciding with our upcoming exhibition ‘Fashioned from Nature’, the residency will take […]

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Pattern Book: A new performance by Neil Brownsword in collaboration with Paul Holdway

In culmination of his six-month residency at the V&A, ceramics resident Neil Brownsword will be presenting a new performative installation in the museum’s day lit galleries on Friday 20 and Saturday 21st April between 11 am and 5 pm. Chinoiserie sketch, Pattern Book, Neil Brownsword 2018 For nearly two decades Neil Brownsword has highlighted endangered forms […]

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Victoria Adukwei Bulley: Artist in Residence for VARI Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities Project

Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Artist in Residence for the VARI Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities Project

The Project The Cabinets of Curiosity project examines the History of Collecting over the centuries, from Early Modern, to 19th Century to Contemporary. Dr Hannah Young is currently undertaking research that seeks to uncover some of the unexplored histories of the V&A, which in many respects became a large-scale nineteenth-century ‘cabinet of curiosity’. In particular, she […]

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V&A Opera Residents to stage new Salome performance on Friday 19 January

  Soprano Philippa Boyle Our Opera Residents have been working with composer Oliver Brignall, soprano Philippa Boyle and costume designer Jean Chan to create a new performance inspired by the character of Salome in Richard Strauss’s Opera. Don’t miss the opportunity to see them on the opening night of the upcoming V&A Opera Weekender on Friday […]

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VARI Artist in Residence Call: Opening the Cabinet, Histories of Slavery and Slave-Ownership

We are delighted to announce our new call for artists who are keen to engage with the histories of slavery and slave-ownership that are ‘hidden in plain sight’ within in the museum, as part of the V&A Research Institute (VARI) Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities project. The selected artist will be encouraged to engage with […]

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