Study Day at the V&A: Navigating Archival Research Materials

Date: Tuesday 19th January, 10am-4pm
Venue: Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London W14 02X
Cost: Free
Register: Eventbrite by Tuesday 22 December

Join us on Tuesday 19th January for an exciting study day at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Theatre and Performance Collections. The event will provide postgraduate students and new researchers with a valuable opportunity to discover more about the V&A’s collections, work with items relevant to their own research, and improve their archival research skills.

The V&A’s Theatre and Performance Collections consist of a vast range of materials related to all areas of the performing arts. Items held in the collection document the history of the performing arts in the UK (post-19th-Century) in addition to current practice. Designs, posters, manuscripts, and audio-visual recordings sit alongside ceramics, puppets, costumes, and stage machinery; the Collections provide a fascinating and invaluable resource for researchers interested in any aspect of modern performance. For further details about the Collections, please visit the V&A website.

The study day will begin with a session that offers participants an insight into the workings of the Theatre and Performance Collections. Simon Sladen, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance at the museum, will give a talk on the history of the department before taking participants on a tour behind the scenes to where the Collections are housed.

The following session will take the form of a group discussion and will provide an initial opportunity for participants to work with material remains. Using a range of items held in the Theatre and Performance Collections, the group will consider the opportunities and limitations posed by different forms of archival evidence. This discussion will explore the provenance, reliability, and subjectivity of such evidence, and will raise important issues surrounding the practice of archival research.

Much of the afternoon will then be dedicated to individual research. Informed by the findings of the group discussion, participants will work with specific items of their choice (requested in advance of the study day) in Blythe House’s Reading Room. The day will end with a group session in which participants will discuss the materials they’ve been working with and consider how the issues raised during the course of the day may impact upon their own research.

A full schedule can be found below. To sign up for the study day, please visit our event page on EventBrite.

All participants are invited to an informal dinner on the evening of the study day. We’ll confirm the time and venue closer to the time of the event.

Further information about requesting items and getting to Blythe House will be sent to participants in advance of the study day.

Schedule for the Day:

10am: History and Tour of the Collection – Simon Sladen, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance
11:30am: Navigating Archival Research Materials – Group Discussion
1pm: Lunch Break
2pm: Independent Research
3:30pm: Concluding Group Discussion
4pm: Close

Evening: Social Dinner with the New Researchers’ Network (Time and Venue TBC)

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