The V&A is the world's leading museum of art, design and performance. It was founded in 1852 to make works of art available to all, to educate and inspire creativity and innovation in the design and manufacturing industries. The V&A was part of the government’s Department of Education and Science and operated under the auspices of an Advisory Council until 1 April 1984, when it acquired Trustee status with the passing of the National Heritage Act 1983 (The Act). The V&A’s permanent collections of over 2.3 million objects span more than 5000 years of human creativity. It holds many UK national collections including ceramics, textiles, furniture, jewellery and the performing arts, and internationally important collections of photography, Asian art and design, and the cultures of childhood. Collections, and knowledge about them, are made available to the public through galleries and exhibitions, UK and international loans, formal and informal learning programmes, research, academic and industry engagement. Research resources include the National Art Library, the Archive of Art and Design, the Clothworkers' Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion, conservation and heritage science facilities and a forthcoming Photography Centre. The V&A was the first national museum to establish a Research Department and holds Independent Research Organisation status. It engages in research collaborations, exchanges and fellowships, and delivers postgraduate teaching at MA and PhD level. In 2016 the V&A Research Institute was launched with generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to foster new forms of collaboration between museum experts, academics from the humanities, social sciences and sciences; artists, designers and practitioners. Strategic objectives focus on the major expansion of our physical and digital reach, using the lens of design to make our collections increasingly accessible and relevant. Key research aims are to increase and improve access to the V&A’s collections and expertise; expand teaching and research partnerships with academics and practitioners; widen the pool of research-active museum staff; for research to underpin major capital projects and the public programme; experiment with innovative cross-disciplinary modes of work in bringing our collections to bear on issues of contemporary life; diversify and increase sources of support and work towards creating sustainable models for embedding research.
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