The V&A was the first museum in the world to establish a dedicated Research Department and it continues to be a core activity of the Museum today. We play a leading role in binding together the fields of art, design and performance; conservation and collections management; and object-led, museum-based learning.
What we do
We work with experts throughout the Museum and a wide range of external partners on research projects and publications as well as exhibitions and events. We also maintain a programme of exchanges with universities and museums in the UK, Europe and North America, as well as offering research fellowships and supporting postgraduate research.
Who we are
We are a large and dynamic department comprising core staff, exhibition and project researchers, V&A/RCA Postgraduate Programme staff, and Research Fellows and postgraduate students.
Researching our collections
We have incredible resources for studying and researching our collections and archives both at the Museum, in our study centres and online.
The Research Handbook
The Research Handbook is designed to describe - for V&A staff, academic partners and independent scholars - the opportunities for research in and on the Museum. It outlines the procedures for applying for external affiliations and internal secondments in support of research projects; it provides guidance to holders of research grants based at the Museum; and it introduces the policies for Open Access and Ethics that ensure our research is conducted and shared in a responsible manner.
Research is deeply embedded in the V&A’s institutional culture, as we strive to promote knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world.
Our staff are engaged in a diverse range of research activities across the fields of art, design and performance; conservation and collections management; and object-led, museum-based learning.
The V&A Research Institute (VARI)
The V&A Research Institute (VARI) is a new programme of research and teaching partnerships that will enhance access to the V&A's collections and develop new approaches to research, training, display and interpretation. It was launched in 2016 with generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation following a successful VARI Pilot Project.
V&A/RCA History of Design Postgraduate Programme
The V&A/RCA Programme (MA, MPhil and PhD) is internationally recognised as the leading centre for postgraduate study in the history of design and material culture. Combining ambitious, rigorous and cutting edge scholarly approaches with first-hand understanding of material and digital artefacts, the History of Design programme is ideally suited to prepare students for the increasingly diverse and flexible professional portfolio demanded today.
Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships
Since 2005 the V&A has worked with UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Awards, working on a wide range of doctoral projects.
V&A Online Journal
Discover some of the latest research relating to our collections, public programme and history in our Online Journal.
Discover progress reports and provocations, sneak previews and glimpses behind the scenes, from people working on and in our collections.
V&A Podcast: What was Europe? A New Salon
Listen to a series of four conversations celebrating the opening of our Europe 1600-1815 galleries. In these talks, we bring together experts working across a range of disciplines and institutions to discuss the geographical and social-historical landscape of Europe from 1600-1815.