How I Work: V&A Rapid Response Curator Corinna Gardner

As guardian of the V&A’s Rapid Response Collection, Corinna Gardner has overseen the museum’s acquisition of everything from a 3D-printed gun to a Pussyhat. She explains how the museum makes its decisions, and why Primark jeans and false eyelashes belong under its roof

In 2014, the Victoria & Albert Museum surprised everyone when it launched its Rapid Response Collecting gallery – which debuted with a pair of Primark trousers, carbon fibre lift cables, and a stuffed toy wolf from Ikea, amongst others. It’s a far cry from the institution’s collection of furniture, fine fabrics and sculptural fragments, and certainly raised eyebrows at the time.

Since then Corinna Gardner, Senior Curator Design, Architecture and Digital, has seen the collection expand to around 30 objects, including everything from a failed Kickstarter drone project, to the more recently acquired WhatsApp and mosquito emoji. Here she discusses why Rapid Response Collecting isn’t such a radical departure from the V&A’s origins, and shares some of the internal debates about what belongs in its collection, and what doesn’t.