Dive Right Into the V&A's New Digital Platform of 1.2 Million Collection Objects

  • February 28, 2021 17:32

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Court Mantua, 1755-60 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Fragment of a hanging, plain woven linen and tapestry woven wool and linen, Akhmim, Egypt, 4th Century - 5th Century BC. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Screenshot, V&A Explore the Collections, showing William Morris, Strawberry Thief ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Great Bed of Ware, 1590-1760 ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Antonio Canova, The Three Graces, 1814-17. Photo: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Purchased jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland
Evening Dress, c.1810 ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Vivienne Westwood, Pair of Platform Shoes, 1993 © Vivienne Westwood. Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A has launched Explore the Collections, a new digital platform that enables everyone from around the world to search, explore and discover over 1.2m objects from the museum’s collections.

This new online experience forms a key part of the V&A’s goal to revolutionize access to national collections, which will culminate in a new collections and research centre at V&A East – an entirely new cultural experience and the first of its kind in the UK.

For the first time, Explore the Collections brings together data, stories, images and content about the museum’s vast and fascinating collection in one place. With a completely redesigned user experience, it provides a new, fluid and story-led approach, where audiences can search for specific objects or allow the site to recommend content based on their interests.

Tim Reeve, Deputy Director & COO at the V&A said; “This new platform comes at a vital time when the way audiences engage with museums and their collections has changed dramatically – particularly during the last year of the global pandemic. ‘Explore the Collections’ is one of the museum’s most significant digital undertakings to date, and supports the V&A’s goal of
revolutionising access to the V&A’s collections, and diversifying and expanding audiences, as we expand towards east London and V&A East. While the museum’s doors remain closed, the platform provides a vital resource for research and discovery of the V&A’s public collections to a worldwide audience.”

Explore the Collections reimagines access to the V&A’s collections for everyone, from armchair researchers to inspired makers, and bringstogether data and stories to provide a more intuitive experience for audiences to delve deeper. The new platform includes enhanced search features, unites collections data with editorial content so audiences can explore the bigger picture, and creates new opportunities to discover, appreciate and learn about similar objects in the V&A collection.

Explore the Collections has launched in beta, and the platform will be continually developed, updated and enriched in the coming months, expanding to laterinclude archives and library collections. The V&A is also encouraging the public to provide feedback on their experience, helping make these national collections even more accessible than before.

Kati Price, Head of Digital Media and Publishing at the V&A added: “Over the last two years we have reimagined how we want to share information about the incredible objects in our collection. From handbags to Raphael, and from jewellery to kimono, we wanted to celebrate our stories about material culture – now and for the future. The V&A looks after over 2.3m exceptional objects, archives and books, but much of what we hold cannot be displayed in our buildings. This project is
about sharing as much as we can, with as many people as possible.”

In addition to fostering new forms of engagement online, the V&A is transforming how visitors can discover and learn in its physical spaces. With over seven miles of gallery space in South Kensington and Scotland’s first design museum at V&A Dundee, the V&A is also redeveloping the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green to become a world-leading centre of creativity for children, as well as building the new V&A East museum in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. This growing family of sites will provide more space than ever before for our world-leading exhibitions, events and learning programmes.

Alongside Explore the Collections, access to collections will be further transformed by a new collections and research centre, just a short walk from the V&A East Museum. This will see the creation of a new type of cultural experience –designed by pioneering architects Diller Scofidio +Renfro – which places visitors at the heart of the V&A’s collections and celebrates the multiplicity of stories, perspectives, skills and disciplines that go into managing an accessible and peerless collection on art, design and performance.


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