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Rapid Response Collecting at the V&A | Exhibition review

  Sunday 6th July 2014

Rapid Response Collecting is a new gallery space just opening at our beloved V&A. It focuses on objects in the press, reacting to a variety of current events that have the potential to inspire art and design, varying from political changes to pop culture. The exhibition concretely promises to concentrate on the here and now.

rapid response collecting

3D printed handgun

Founded in 1852 the V&A still remains one of the world’s greatest museums of art and design. When visiting the exhibition you walk amongst a vast array of historical pieces. In terms of the contents within the rest of the museum, an interesting juxtaposition is created between the notion of the old and the new.

At first glance the exhibition is seemingly a random collection, but at closer inspection we can see that it actually contains poignant objects that have ignited global discussion.

Within the collection is the viewing of an app called Flappy Birds which recently became a world-wide phenomenon. Here, two mobile phones are displayed playing a part of the game alongside a description. Also being exhibited are architectural spikes, which sparked conversation over Twitter for its controversy as they were seen as defensive architecture used to deter homeless people.

In time the exhibition will become an archive so that visitors and researchers can understand events that took place in the 21st century, as the collection is constantly updated.

The objects are chosen to be exhibited because they have been in the media, often provoking strong opinions, but a feeling of disappointment may arise as visitors realise they have already seen and read about these affairs. In a world of fast change driven by social media and the press, a constant flow is forever occurring where one day’s news is the next day forgotten; this reflects our own everlasting desire for something new. By the time these things have been acknowledged there is already something different to talk about, conveying how instantaneously things get replaced. We are already made aware of these pieces often through word of mouth, but the gallery uses concise descriptions to teach us the political messages behind them too.

It’s good to see the V&A adapting by looking at current affairs, but the future of this collection in a gallery space is uncertain: this historical archive could easily be replaced by a more relevant, more interesting newcomer.


Rebekah Farndale

Rapid Response Collecting is at the V&A from 4th July 2014 until 15th January 2015, for further information visit here.

More about the author


Opening: 4th July 2014

Closing: 15th January 2015

Entry: Free



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