Scary looking clown in black and white with a green glow on a purple and black spotted background

Top 10 objects to survive a nightmare

Some of the most memorable nightmares involve being chased, falling uncontrollably or coming face to face with a monstrous looking beast! So what would you do to bring an end to the night terrors if the only tools available to you were things you can find in the V&A? Here are ten items from our collection that you could use to protect yourself from a haunting nightmare!


A red and gold cushion

Dreams where you are falling from a great height can have you waking up in a sweat. Dreams like this are often said to symbolise a lack of control. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you had a big pile of pillows to cushion the blow. Why not make it regal too, you glamorous human! Imagine falling on silk cushions made for a sofa which is in Syon House, the grand home of the Duke of Northumberland. Times this cushion by 1000, oh how soft, oh how glamorous!

Being chased

A black bike with a red back wheel

Like falling, being chased in a dream can make you feel like you’re out of your depth and threatened. Why does it always feel like you’re running too slowly?! Dreams like this are often said to symbolise anxiety. But imagine if you could jump on a speedy bike like this one? This bike is a smart-electric hybrid and was designed in Copenhagen. Copenhagen is considered to be one of the world’s most bike friendly cities, so they know their bikes! Speed away friend, speed away!

Teeth falling out

Fake teeth next to a white box which say 'The smallest falsies in the world' in capital letters

The thought of your teeth falling out can be terrifying. Dreams like this are often thought to reflect an inner feeling of being powerless or concerned about your outward appearance. But imagine if you could trick your nightmare into thinking the teeth in your mouth were real, but in actual fact they’re fake! That would mean you would only lose your dentures and not your real teeth! Gotcha! There’s not any information about who donated these tiny false teeth to the V&A…Who did they belong to?! That’s a bit of a creepy nightmare in itself!

Being unprepared for an important exam

A quill on a grey background

Exams are stressful at the best of times, but nightmares like this usually crop up around exam season and can make it even more dreadful! Dreams such as these are said to reflect your anxiety about not hitting the mark. But fear not, you’ve got this. Preparation is key, so all you’ve got to do in your dream is show how prepared you are! Why not whip out this snazzy quill (which is a type of pen they used to use in the olden days), and show your dream just how prepared you are!

Being trapped

A fancy key in a wooden box

Pushing and shoving to get out, but you can’t – you’re trapped! It’s the worst! Dreams like this are thought to symbolise the feeling of being overwhelmed in your day to day life. But what if all you needed was a key. Much like this fancy one, which was presented to King Edward for the opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum in June, 1909. You might just be able to get yourself out of being trapped with a special key!

A monster or a ghost makes a guest appearance

A gold pocket watch

Night terrors often feature monsters, ghosts or other supernatural beings which can really shake us to the core. Dreams like this are thought to reflect the fact that you’ve seen a situation recently that you really don’t like, maybe a friend was a little too mean or someone shouted at someone else on the bus. We’ve got an unusual object for you to survive a nightmare. It’s a watch. Imagine if you could slow down time, you’d have a moment to think about your next move, or maybe you could even rewind time and change the situation! How are you going to deal with the monster in your nightmares?

Inability to scream or move

A black and white image of Darcus Howe

This one is a real scary one. Don’t you just hate the nightmares where you can’t scream or move?! Dreams like these are thought to symbolise a feeling of powerlessness. In actual fact, what you don’t realise is that you’re truly powerful. Imagine if you had a megaphone? Some of the greatest figures in British history have used megaphones to spread their wise words. Check out Darcus Howe in this image. He was originally from Trinidad but moved to the UK in the early 60s. He spent his life protesting against racism and other injustices. He stood up for people and dedicated his life to change.

Failing to protect someone

Blue and white ceramic shoe

This is one we can’t even bear to think of. You know the dreams where you have to protect someone you love and for whatever reason you just can’t. These sorts of nightmares leave your heart racing! Dreams like these are thought to symbolise that you may be overwhelmed by how much responsibility you have. But something that could change this nightmare into a dream could be pausing to go to a spa. It’s time to chill, relax and relieve the pressure. Why not try this 300-year-old Persian rasp? Rasps are smoothly glazed and polished on one side, but have a rough, gritty texture beneath for scraping away dead skin from your feet. Self care time begins now! It’s time to look after you more. Check out this ASMR film to learn more about them!

The Persian rasp actually features in our article exploring our top 5 ASMR objects to check out in the V&A.

Creepy crawlies

A watercolour drawing of a spider

Insects often get a bad rep – it’s all those little legs moving so fast! Dreams with creepy crawlies are thought to symbolise a fear of nature. The opposite of fear is love, so channel your love of insects! Maybe you can turn your nightmare into something less nightmare-ish by being curious about these creatures? Be inspired by Beatrix Potter, one of the greatest writers, illustrators and scientists of the 1800-1900s who loved all animals, no matter how big, small or crawly!

Zombie Apocalypse

Wooden crossbow

The zombie apocalypse is upon us, but your only available survival tools are museum artefacts. Luckily, the V&A has got your back. Check out our full list of survival tools you could take from the V&A during a zombie apocalypse!