11 July 2016

Visit to V&A Archives

Joining mailing lists such a APML is a great way to find out about upcoming events and tour. My most recent tour was of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) Archives at Blythe House located in Olympia. Initially the Head Office of the Post Office Bank in 1900s, the grand building was taken over by the V&A, British Museum and the Science Museum in the 1950s. With the addition of a study room, storage facilities and Textiles Room, Blythe House became known as the building to house the archives and collections of these 3 institutions. 

At the start of the visit, Christopher Marsden, Head Archivist of the V&A Archives printed the picture of the development of the V&A archives. With focus on design education in 1830s, mainly British art and design industry from 1920s and the Great Exhibition of 1982 the importance of archives and record keeping policy came into play. It became necessary to record correspondence to matching objects in the V&A collection in nominal files and information about the V&A building design itself. Logbook of materials, photographs also became an important source to track the history of and locate objects.   

The collection has continued to grow in areas of children's literature books such as Beatrix Potter, theatre performance, fashion and textiles. It now comprising of 4 units: 

·         the Archive of Art and Design
·         the Beatrix Potter Collections
·         the V&A Archive
·         the V&A Theatre and Performance Archive
Open 4 times a week the V&A Archives is available for consultation by appointment only. It is heavily used by enthusiasts, students and academics. I definitely enjoyed seeing the collections of art and design related to British and British based companies, some still in business today. Some of the material on show was the Ideal home photograph album, designs from Garrard silverware and House of Worth items. 

I would encourage others to visit these archives to learn more about specialist collections such as art and design. You can see a few pictures of the visit below. 

N.B. Permission was granted to take photography on this visit.