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.
There is currently no access to the V&A's study collections at Blythe House, including the archive collections, while we relocate them to the new V&A East Storehouse in Stratford's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We are unable to consult material in the collections on behalf of enquirers and our enquiry service is therefore very limited. Full access and enquiry services will resume in 2025.
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 and Performance collections, enabling us to make these recordings without payment of artists' fees, for research purposes.
Group viewings take place in the Learning Centre at the V&A, South Kensington. For more details, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.