Virtual access to over 1.2m objects in the V&A

This week, the V&A has responded to the needs of art and culture in a digital age, and uploaded more than 1.2 million of its fascinating objects for online consumption.

The new Explore the Collections platform provides a revolutionary new way to interact with the museum’s treasure trove of exhibits. Wherever you are in the world, you will be able to search, view and learn more about the artefacts and artworks on display. It is all part of the museum’s dedication to broadening access to national collections, even with the pandemic closing its doors.

the three graces marble front view with first base plinth only
by antonio canova 1757   1822 
1814   17

The Three Graces by Antonio Canova 1757-1822. V&A London.

McGrath, Daniel

Explore the Collections is the inaugural project of its kind for the museum. It brings together data, stories, images and content about the collection and fully integrates the user’s experience, telling stories of each piece and its context and recommending curated journeys through the archives. Its clever curation does, indeed, almost trick you into thinking you could be exploring the vast halls of the museum in person.

“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,” says Tim Reeve, deputy director and COO at the V&A. “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 its collections, and diversifying and expanding audiences.”

evening dress
c 1810
machine made silk net, embroidered with chenille thread, with silk ribbon, hand sewn

Evening dress, England c 1810. V&A London.

Jaron James

The launch of the online platform will (hopefully soon) be followed by the opening of V&A East, in East London, a brand new museum on the Stratford waterfront, alongside the redevelopment of the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. It is an exciting period of growth for the museum, despite the bleak prospects afforded by lockdown.

Tim Reeve agrees: “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.”

To explore the online platform, head to

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Alice G. Collins

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