11 March 2014

V&A textile collection

Felix on febric ... in the frames
The textile collection has moved from its tired-looking rooms to a new space not too far from the museum called The Clothworkers' Centre, which can be visited by appointment, or you can book onto the tours that take place on the last Friday of the month. No doubt this centre provides optimum storage conditions for fragile textiles, but its relative inaccessibility rather makes textiles feel negligible and/or marginalised. But museum buildings are not infinitely expandable, so other arrangements must be made for part of the collectio.

These videos last for about 2 1/2 minutes each, and show the facility and some of the items held there -
http://vimeo.com/85453423 (contemporary fashion)
http://vimeo.com/85452309 (asian textiles)
http://vimeo.com/85450493 (pre-1800)
http://vimeo.com/85447838 (highlights from the collection)

The Felix The Cat fabric from 1924 is shown in the Highlights video (it's one of three different Felix fabrics in the museum's collection). If you visited the V&A's textiles collection in the "old days" you might recognise the handles in the picture above as being part of "the frames", cabinets storing mounted pieces, which could be taken to a desk for close study.
In the photo of the old Room 100 (via), you can see flaps that supported the individual frames (the glass made them quite heavy) when pulled out; these could be (and often were) raised and locked. Along the well are the viewing stands and study tables.

Via the online collections search page you can find thousands of textiles in the collections and read about their history, and save yourself the journey to the museum!


Olga Norris said...

In many ways I can see why they have done this, but I still think of it as sidelining the collection. It is such a shame that that casual encounter is no longer available. The V&A joins the British Museum in parking its textiles. Years ago the BM was planning to have a textiles department, separate, in New Oxford St. I believe, but the new courtyard development went way over budget, so that was scrapped. So, no new department, and - the reason why I know about it - they could not afford to buy Sheila Paine's collection.
And I was thinking so highly of the V&A's refurbishment so far - I love the ceramics department, for example.

Pat said...

Tired-looking or not I loved visiting these cabinets and having to make an appointment to visit takes away freedom of access.