Museum pieces dusted off for a new market

Licensing: the V&A is developing income by allowing private businesses to make use of its collection of designs

IN A BID to boost its finances, the Victoria & Albert Museum has begun authorising companies at home and abroad to use some of the designs in its collections on a range of products.

In recent weeks the museum, which boasts the world's finest collection of the decorative arts, has signed licensing deals with a framing gallery in Saudi Arabia and with Royal Selangor International, a Malaysian pewter manufacturer. The agreements others made in recent years with a range of companies in Japan, the US and mainland Europe. The products being sold under the V&A brand name include such items as bedding, textiles, ceramics and glassware.

The initiative is the responsibility of V&A Enterprises, the commercial arm of the museum, which, like equivalents at other museums, had been best known for operating a shop and mail-order catalogue. But Michael Cass, managing director of V&A Enterprises, says the licensing programme is "something that sets us apart" from other commercial fund-raising activities by museums. He says it also takes the museum back to its origins, since it was known in the 19th Century as the Museum of Manufactures. He would not say how much the licensing contributes to the division, but the commercial arm over all gives the museum about £500,000 a year in profits and rents.

Mr Cass says the shop and catalogue are progressing well, but he sees the licensing programme, launched four to five years ago, as an important development area. "We started in a smallish way with a lot of paper products, but we're branching out," he said, adding that the project is taking on an international flavour because "the collections themselves are very international".

The deal with Royal Selangor, sealed within the past month, has its roots in the company's purchase two years ago of Comyns, a respected British silverware manufacturer. Royal Selangor, which holds a royal warrant from the Sultan of Selangor state, will make products to designs inspired by those in the museum. It believes the V&A endorsement, added to the quality of the products, will make them attractive the world over. The first range of pieces will be unveiled next year and further collections are being developed.

Royal Selangor now gains significant revenue from the tourist trade in Malaysia, but hopes for strong growth in exports, particularly to Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, the US and Britain. PK Yong, the managing director, says: "We trade internationally with products based on fine design. What better association could there be than the endorsement of our design excellence by the renowned Victoria & Albert Museum."

Mr Cass added that working with manufacturers in this way raises money and raises consciousness about the museum.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?