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Design as Museum

March 5, 2017

On my visit to the V&A, I went to the Theatre & Performance collection. I was walking around in the gallery for almost 2 hours, trying to figure out if it possible that the museum is subconsciously implanting some sort of design’s histories and theories messages by displaying all the glamorous costume. In the case I was wandering in the gallery for such a long time (well longer than 30 minutes our tutor suggested), I was confuse about what sort of histories and theories of design is possibly constructed by the museum though the displaying of the collection. Then I realized that I can look at the gallery in a different angle, probably from looking at the history of the gallery itself.

I sort of came up with this idea during my third visit after we were told to do the assignment, which I admit I feel like a retardate that I have problem understanding even reading the topic (‘V&A constructs histories and theories of design’ assumed that the museum has an established theories of its collection which I really don’t get what exactly the topic is talking about and this really made me doubting myself with dyslexia). I overheard a tour of the gallery and I joined in with curiosity, hoping that I might gain more information of the collections from the tour guide. I was surprised that there was some sort of controversy behind the history of the gallery itself and it is such a shame that you can’t see anything about it and wasn’t mentioned in the display. The gallery was founded in the 1920s, which you can find this information online. The thing you can’t see on the V&A website is the collector, Gabrielle Enthoven tried to donate her collection before then but was refused by the curator due to the low social status of theatre performing industry at the time (not to mention the donator was a woman who was possibly a lesbian). Let’s stop blaming V&A being such a sexist about 100 years ago which people then mostly had no idea about gender equality. The elevation of social status of actor and actress was not mentioned in the collections at all. The collections are more focusing on the theatre and its development, how a play was arrange and construct but not the history of actors and actresses. Of course the V&A museum is more of a collection of artifact, but in this case, the actors and actresses have a main role in performance, their history are as important as the costume they wore.

If I had to choose a collection from the gallery, I would choose the ‘Glowgramme for the Windmill Theatre’. The programme was specially designed, when held it up to the light on the stage, the slightly transparent paper allowed people to read the words on it. This is the kind of design that is practical and reflected the time. The way it was displayed doesn’t have a clear histories and theories of design, but interestingly, you can buy it on eBay with only £4.99.


Gabrielle-Enthoven_6109cc5abfa4ddbb422a076a3285f829-610x749.jpg The Private Life of Gabrielle Enthoven | Victoria and …
Over the past couple of years, I have been looking through the collections at the Museum to discover more about the private and personal life of Enthoven.

f3d1f8cc2652f84769150d7d5c08ae80.jpg Introducing Enthoven | Victoria and Albert Museum
It is now 90 years since Gabrielle Enthoven’s gift of 80,000 playbills, engravings, photographs, manuscripts and books was accepted by the museum after a decade …

features-theatre-danielradcliffe-med.jpg Theatre and Performance Collections – Archives Hub
The Archives Hub and Copac are trusted online resources which help researchers save time when they are searching for primary and secondary source materials to support …

s-l1000.jpg 1930s 1940s Windmill Theatre Revudeville 86 Glowgramme Glow in Dark Programme | eBay
1930s 1940s Windmill Theatre Revudeville 86 Glowgramme Glow in Dark Programme in Collectables, Theatre/ Opera/ Ballet, Theatre Programmes | eBay!

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