VARI projects

The V&A Research Institute (VARI) is home to a portfolio of collections-based and museum-focused research projects composed of highly interdisciplinary teams. Funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, researchers in a wide range of fields from within and beyond the V&A work together to produce not just new knowledge, but also new methods.

The Leman Album: an enhanced facsimile

This 18th-century volume contains Europe's earliest dated silk designs – close to 100 astonishingly vibrant drawings on paper. Bringing together wide-ranging expertise in the fields of Research and Conservation, this project will unlock the fascinating stories hidden in its pages.

Encounters on the shop floor

Encounters investigates 'ways of knowing' described as embodied, tacit, or implicit – championing their importance, and moving beyond the divide between 'mind' and 'hand' and between 'intellectual' and 'manual' knowledge. Here, curators, makers, performers, surgeons and historians work hand-in-hand.

Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities

Exploring the 19th century afterlives of early modern and Enlightenment 'Cabinet of Curiosities' and their impact on 21st-century collecting, art practice and display. This project will rework the cabinet concept to engage new audiences with collecting's deep histories.


Show+Tell+Share explores radical new options for large-scale, visible and accessible collection storage as well as intersecting analogue and digital methods for encountering objects. How can we design ways to support visitors in becoming participatory researchers in their own right?


Digital artworks have both tangible and intangible aspects, and this project aims to articulate ways in which museum practice and international cultural property law could adapt to accommodate and enable meaningful access to such conceptual, ephemeral and immaterial work.

Deciphering Dickens

An unparalleled collection of original manuscripts and proofs for most of Dickens’ novels can be found at the V&A. This project will develop and trial ways in which Dickens’s creative process can be opened out online to engage citizen researchers the world over.

Artist, Designer, Maker Residencies

Our VARI residencies for artists, designers and makers will connect the V&A’s collections and expertise with visitors and both local and international communities.

Visiting Professorships

Our Visiting Professorships will enable leading academics working either in the UK or overseas to spend between 3 and 12 months at the Museum where they will contribute knowledge and leadership to VARI programmes.

Public Engagement Fellows

Working closely with V&A specialists, the Public Engagement Fellows will develop innovative practices aimed at activating Museum collections not currently on display, including new acquisitions.