The Archive of Art and Design (AAD) was established in 1978 to house the V&A's growing holdings of archival material. It collects, conserves and makes available for research the archives of individuals, associations and companies involved in any stage of the art and design process. These include collections that have been used or built up by artists and designers in the course of their work. Particular emphasis is placed on the records of British 20th- and 21st-century design.
The AAD's collecting area largely reflects that of the Museum's collections. Subjects include:
- Architecture and interior design
- Book illustration
- Ceramics and glass
- Contemporary art and design
- Exhibition design
- Fine arts
- Furniture design
- Graphic design
- Metalwork, silver and jewellery
- Stained glass design
- Textile design
The AAD holds over 350 separate archive groups. They vary in size from a few to several thousand items and contain many different types of material, such as designs, sketches, order books, accounts, correspondence, photographs and promotional material. In addition, some printed ephemera is collected as a record of contemporary developments in advertising, packaging and graphic design, and to complement the holdings of the Museum.
Blythe House Archive & Library Study Room | Gate B | Blythe House | 23 Blythe Road | London | W14 0QX
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Wednesday – Friday, 10.00 – 16.30
Opening arrangements 2020 – 21
There is currently no access to any of the V&A's study collections, including the Archive of Art and Design, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Enquiry services will resume from November 2020. There will be no access to Blythe House after March 2021, while we prepare for relocation to the new Collections and Research Centre in Stratford's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
How to access the archive
The archive can be accessed with a V&A Library Card and by appointment only.
You can apply for a free Library Card by creating a user account either in advance of your visit or in person on your arrival. This card is also valid for use in the National Art Library and the Prints & Drawings Study Room at the V&A, South Kensington.
On your first visit to the archives you will need to show current ID and proof of address (e.g. bank statement, utility bill, driving licence, etc.), in order to complete the joining process and be issued with a Library Card.
To make an appointment to view material, please call +44 (0)20 7942 2303 or contact us online, including the reference numbers of archive files you would like to consult. Further requests for material can be made during your visit.
Please note, we strongly advise making an appointment at least two weeks in advance of your visit. Appointments are only valid with a confirmation email.
Search the archive
Search the archive to discover the working papers of artists, designers and companies in the applied arts and design.
Our Research guides list the archives that we hold by subject, and are a useful place to start your research. Use them to find out more about what we hold relating to subjects such as fashion, textiles, silver, and interior design.
Visit the Tales from the Archives blog to discover interesting facts about the history of the V&A and hidden stories from our various archives. We will also keep you informed about our current and future projects, offer sneak previews of our new acquisitions as well as insights into what it's like to run a busy archive service.