The V&A's Theatre & Performance Archives are the national collection of performing arts documenting current practice and the history of all areas of performing arts in the UK, including drama, dance, opera, circus, puppetry, comedy, musical theatre, costume, set design, pantomime, popular music and more.
The collection was founded in the 1920s when private collector Gabrielle Enthoven donated her extensive collection of theatrical designs, memorabilia, books and photographs to the Museum. Since then the collection has continued to grow.
Particular strengths are the archives of key theatres, theatre and dance companies, 20th-century stage designers, actors and directors, photographers and government bodies such as the Arts Council. Typically, the archives contain a wide range of materials such as diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, business papers, and designs.
The Reading Room and AV Suite | Gate B | Blythe House | 23 Blythe Road | London | W14 0QX
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Wednesday – Friday, 10.15 – 16.30
Planned closures 2019
Monday 12 – Friday 23 August (annual stocktake)
Tuesday 24 December 2019 – Wednesday 1 January 2020
* Friday 18 December 2020 – Spring/Summer 2023: closed for relocation to the new Collections and Research Centre in Stratford's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
How to access the archive
The archives 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 2698 or email: email@example.com with the reference numbers of the specific items you wish to see from Search the Archives. Further requests for material can be made during your visit. Additional retrievals will be at designated times over the course of the day.
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 archives
Search the archives to discover collections documenting both current practice and the history of performing arts in the UK.
National Video Archive of Performance (NVAP)
The National Video Archive of Performance (NVAP) is an archive of over 300 high quality live performance recordings made since 1992. This ever-expanding archive has been made possible due a unique agreement between the Federation of Entertainment Unions and the V&A Theatre & Performance Department, enabling us to make these recordings without payment of artists' fees, for research purposes.
NVAP recordings can be accessed by individual researchers by appointment at the V&A Theatre & Performance Archive at Blythe House in Olympia.
To book an appointment, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org stating the recording title, reference number and the date you would like to view it. Please note that there may be a high demand for some recordings. NVAP recordings are not available for public screening.
Group viewings take place in the Sackler Centre for Education at the V&A, South Kensington. For more details, please email: email@example.com
Visit the Theatre & Performance blog to keep up-to-date with the latest news, explore our collections, read about our new acquisitions, and hear first when collections are catalogued and available for research in our Reading Room.