V&A Collection and Research Centre, 2018

open-access facility to house the V&A’s collection of two million artefacts

There is an inherent drama in the complexity and richness of the V&A collection. This conceptual vision for opening up their storage for public engagement was developed in collaboration with AOC and a ‘tech team’ including theatre designers, collection experts and graphic designers.

In many ways the continual movement of objects, their juxtaposition, and provisional arrangements, whether in transit or being worked on, is every bit as dramatic as a formally curated exhibition. We have articulated this by providing opportunities for dramatic and performative encounters with the Collection using several theatrical devices, and inviting visitors to cross the fourth wall and experience the collection from backstage.

The drum road, drum revolve, fly tower and technical grid are ideas borrowed from theatre - where sets, objects and people inhabit a process-based world to support the main show. The backstage facilities of a theatre parallel the co-dependency between the archive and a museum.

We have imagined this storage landscape as a continually evolving journey through the inner workings of the archive which engenders a sense of special personal discovery.

If the collection storage celebrates the spatial dynamism of the 21st century distribution depot, the engagement spaces aim to provide characterful intimacy for study, learning and meeting. Spaces, or fragments of spaces, from the collection are used as rooms where possible, allowing the collection to be seen and actively inhabited.


victoria & Albert museum

Architect of Engagement

AOC Architecture

Theatre and Acoustics consultant


Museum storage design

David Goodwin

Lighting Design

DHA Designs