Victoria & Albert Museum, the Art of Transmission

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has been the home for design, craft and decorative arts since its foundation in 1852. Its collections cover 5000 years of craftsmanship and include items from every corner of the world. For those interested in textiles and fashion, the museum has much to offer. The fashion and textile collections include over 75,000 items, which make it the widest-ranging collection in the world.
Almost all textile techniques are represented in the museum, including woven, embroidered, and printed textiles, tapestries and carpets. The large and versatile collection aims at valorising textile and craftsmanship, and providing inspiring ideas for contemporary designers. Therefore, the mission of the V&A has not only been to conserve past artefacts, but also to bridge between traditional crafts and contemporary designers and creators in the UK and beyond.
Storage in The Clothworkers‚ Centre for Textile and Fashion Study and Conservation © Victoria and Albert Museum
The museum is a one of its kind institution for textile professional and aficionados alike. Besides the beautiful collections of items on permanent show, the V&A established in 2010 a large research and conservation centre, where various items which are not usually accessible to the public can be browsed and studied. The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion is located at Blythe House, at Olympia in West London.
Storage in The Clothworkers‚ Centre for Textile and Fashion Study and Conservation © Victoria and Albert Museum
A visit to the fashion department at the V&A reveals the variety of unique items in the museum’s collections, spanning from rare 16th century robes to the most recent collections by the world’s leading designers. The permanent exhibition offers an interesting and well-explained overview on the development of European fashion from the 17th and 18th century to new fashionable items. The focus here is on British fashion, uncovering its versatility of styles and inspirations. But other parts of the world, especially France, China and Japan, are also well represented.
The fashion department also organizes temporary thematic exhibitions, on a wide variety of subjects including bridal dresses, post-modern fashion, artist textiles, evening wear and contemporary designers like Yohji Yamamoto. Every month the public and professionals alike are invited to participate in special lectures given by leading scholars, curators and designers including Sir Paul Smith and Giambattista Valli. Thus, the V&A keeps a close touch with the contemporary world of crafts and design, while presenting the richness of historical creations.