Classes at the V&A


For the past 5 weeks we have been having our MA Museum and Galleries classes at the Sackler Centre at the Victoria & Albert Museum with various Education staff.  We had the great opportunity to meet the museum’s artist residents. The residents apply for a 6 months placement with the museum. They work on projects and utilise their access to the museums archives and collections.  One of the residents is a costume designer. As we entered her studio we were memorised by the pieces of clothing, sketches pinned all over the walls, and unfinished costumes on mannequins scattered around the room. The other resident was a ceramic artist in the studio on level 6 the ceramics floor. Surprisingly, the resident wants to attract audiences that like to listen to rock music and skateboard users to visit his art exhibitions. These are considered new and not conventional V&A audiences, but a risk that the artist and the V&A are willing to experiment with.
These classes at the V&A have been extremely useful and has given us an insight to potential museum career paths we may want to pursue after our masters degree. We have gained an understanding of what happens behind the scenes in the museum that a normal visitor may not have knowledge of. There is something thrilling about knowing how a museum operates behind the eyes of the visitor. Many museum visitors tend not to think about what happens behind the scenes in a museum but just focuses on what the museum wants them to see. For example, the staff is constantly designing and planning new exhibitions, organising restoration plans of the building and art collections, coming up with new methods in attracting new visitors etc. It was a surprise to learn that the ‘Hollywood Costume’ exhibition was planned and over 7 years, which means most of the exhibitions opened for the public this year were planned and made official years ahead. This suggests that it takes years of planning and organisation to keep the museum functioning and constantly offer something for their audiences. I can understand why the V&A museum is one of London’s top attractions.
It has been a great experience at the V&A and opened our eyes to potential career paths in the Museum industry. Having only experience in galleries and small art organisations to have the insight to the organisation of a large art and cultural institution has been a great opportunity. 
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 2RL