The Victoria and Albert Museum or V&A is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design. The museum is located in South Kensington. It is one of the twenty most visited art museums in the world. V&A has an area of 12.5 acres (5.1 ha) and 145 galleries.
The museum has a huge legacy of many world's richest cultures including ceramics, furniture, fashion objects, glass, jewellery, metalwork, photographs, sculptures, fabrics and paintings of the 5,000-year period. Besides permanent exhibitions, exciting exhibitions, demonstrations and events are constantly held here.
The museum was founded in 1852 under the influence of the successfull Great Exhibition of 1851. It was financed by the proceeds from the exhibition. Initially, the museum was founded in collaboration with the school of design of Department of Practical Art. The museum got a great support from the Prince Consort Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. The museum actively purchased samples of decorative art. Thanks to generous donations and a small demand for art at that time, the museum has managed to make a large collection. In 1899, the new central building of the museum was built with the help of Queen Victoria, and soon the museum was renamed in honor of the Queen and her husband. Earlier a number of buildings in South Kensington were built for the museum.
The Victorian parts of the building have a complex history, different architects made sequential additions. The museum was founded in May 1852, but only in 1857 it was moved to its current site. The first building was designed by the engineer-architect Francis Fowke. An ambitious scheme of design was developed for different areas of the front part: a series of mosaic figures depicting famous European artists of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
There is also a national art library in the museum containing over 750,000 books, photographs, drawings, paintings and engravings. This is one of the world's largest libraries dedicated to the study of decorative art. The library covers all areas and periods of the museum's collections including special collections of sacred manuscripts, rare books and letters of artists, and archives.
The structure of the museum
The museum is not difficult to orient: there are information boards with maps and floor plans near elevators and stairs. The museum collections are located on 6 floors, the 5th floor is used for lectures, seminars and meetings of the members of the museum club. There is a free entrance as in other major museums of the UK.
Collections by floors:
- the art of the Renaissance (sculptures) 1300-1600;
- Raphael's cartoons;
- Asian art.
- British art 1500-1760 (sculptures);
- Europe 300-1600 (interiors and decorative objects).
- iron works;
- portrait miniatures;
- art gallery, sculptures;
- modern of the 20th century.
- British art 1760-1900;
- architecture (models of selected buildings);
I invite you to take a walk around some halls and exhibits of the Victoria and Albert Museum which I was lucky to visit a few days ago. During 6 hours of continuous walking and seeing I did not managed to get around all the halls, so I had to choose the most necessary and interesting directions.
Photos posted below were taken by me during this visit (except the common views of jewelry hall).
The main entrance to the museum is decorated with rich reliefs and sculptures.
The inner courtyard of the museum, an ornamental lake and a recreation area for visitors.
An exit from the west wing of the building. There is a wooden installation made in honour of the London Design Festival.
The courtyard view from a window of the museum. Every detail of the building's architecture is amazing and deserves special attention.
The ceiling, stained-glass windows and the interior of the café at the museum, the north wing.
Extraordinary rooms with objects of art of different eras and cultures. You can easily forget what century you are in here.
This room made a special impression on me. I have never thought that the vintage elements and the objects of history can be harmoniously combined with new, progressive architectural designs! Overall, London charmed me with this feature — it is an extremely bright and expressive eclecticism which inspires everyone!
There are elements of buildings that survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 in this hall.
Other rooms of the V&A: a part of the library and the furniture exposition of the 20th century.
Halls with glass. A huge collection of glassware and the design of rooms are both extraordinary: the stairs and the railings are made of thousands of glass elements amazingly shimmering in the spotlight.
A hall with metal works. Fascinating, inspiring exhibits!
Medieval halls. Various stained-glass windows made the greatest impression on me.
Just like in the Museum of Victoria and Albert, there is a special place in my heart for the objects of art of the New Art era.
Decorative sculptures are also fascinating.
And the main thing that interested me: 2 stunning halls with the history of jewelry! I spent here more than several hours :) I made a special detailed photo report on these exhibits. Here are the jewelry of different eras, from the first which were found in archaeological excavations around the world, to the modern so-called contemporary jewelry.
These dark areas look cosmically beautiful, they attract visitors by treasures in the showcases.
And especially memorable and successfully photographed exhibits.
A special love is unconditional. The works of the Art Nouveau era.
And some of very original designs. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to take a photo of all the names. But now there is a reason to come back :)
In the near future I will continue to make publications about the most interesting places in the UK that I was lucky to visit recently: other museums and exhibitions of London, as well as many unusual places in Scotland. Such experiences remain in one's mind and heart for many years, they are definitely worth sharing!
If you go to London, visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum and Tate Britain. They are my favorite, I will definitely write about them in the future.
I hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour. See you next time!