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Doctoral Placement – Provenance of V&A South Asian Collections

Reference: MAY20236680
Expiry date: 2023-06-22 22:59:00.000
Location: Cromwell Road
Salary: £0 Per Annum
Benefits: V&A staff pass – 25% off gift shop, access to exhibtions and other museums. A bespoke training package designed for the placement student cohort.
Duration:3 - 6 Months
Attachments: VADoctoralPlacementSchemeApplicationGuidelines202324(2).pdf

The project is based in the Asia Department/VARI and addresses the growing interest in the V&A’s South Asian Collections. Specifically, it aims to uncover new information about the provenance of items which entered the collection between the arrival of the East India Company holdings in 1879 and the Partition of India in 1947. 

The student will review V&A archival records to identify the acquisition source and subsequently carry out research to uncover more information about them. In doing so, the project will make a significant contribution to the V&A’s provenance research efforts and the wider history of collecting. At every stage of the project, the student will be supported by the placement supervisors and curators in the Asia Department, and they will have opportunity to share their findings within and beyond the museum.

Placement candidates will expect to acquire the following skills and knowledge from this placement.

• Insight into the provenance of items from India which entered the V&A’s collections between 1880 and 1947.

• Knowledge of the network of merchants and other agents dealing in Indian art during this period.

• Provenance research and archival research skills.

• Familiarity with collections management database systems and learnt cataloguing skills.

• Expanded experience and skills in sharing research with expert and general audiences.


Possible outputs of the placement

Review relevant archival documents at the V&A (acquisition records, correspondence files, departmental research records) to cast light onto the provenance of items from India which entered the collections between 1880 and 1947.

• Devise a research strategy into dealers and collectors, with support from the project supervisors.

• Carry out research into specific dealers and collectors, particularly those who supplied the objects that will be included in the new South Asian gallery displays. This work will involve the use of records in relevant archives and libraries, such as the British Library and National Archives, and online resources

• Enter relevant information into the V&A’s Collections Management System (CMS), following the framework established in last year’s DTP placement.

• Share their research with the V&A research community and the public (for example, by giving presentations at Asia Department meetings, the VARI research seminar, the Museum’s provenance research seminar series, articles or blog posts for the V&A website).