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
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'