Secrets of the Museum

Secrets of the Museum is a documentary made by Blast! Films for BBC Two. It goes behind the scenes at the V&A – showing the work of our curators and conservators – alongside our preparations for exhibitions and acquisitions.

The first episode of series 1 traced the care of a perennial favourite from the V&A Museum of Childhood, Pumpie the Elephant, along with a look at our preparation for the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition.

Over the films we explore the variety of the collections and the complexities in preparing them for display in our galleries. UK audiences can see the programme on iPlayer here.

Pumpie the Elephant was made in about 1900 by the children of the Cattley family, who lived in Ealing, West London. He is currently dressed as a sailor in dark blue wool, and his jacket is decorated with brass buttons – but he has several other outfits for dressing up, including a kilt and a green velvet jacket. He was clearly played with a lot, but has also been attacked over time by moths, and the film traces Pumpie as he is carefully prepared for travel to an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Every object tells a story, and each programme follows the V&A’s experts at work. Many of these objects are fragile, and most are extremely rare, presenting new conservation challenges at every turn. Told through the day-to-day lives of our dedicated and world-class team, the hidden history of each object is uncovered, from how it was made and why it matters, keeping these stories alive for future generations.

To accompany each episode of series 1, there are updates on our blog, highlighting ways to continue exploring objects and exhibitions featured.

"A stately, fascinating new series rummaging through the treasures of the Victoria and Albert Museum".

The Daily Telegraph

"Prepare to sigh at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s heavenly constellation of sparkling jewels … in another delightful episode"

Radio Times