Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design and is part of a huge complex of museums in South Kensington. The museum was founded in 1852 after the World’s Fair in London. The complex owes its name to Queen Victoria and her husband Albert, who also worked hard to open the museum. Today it is one of the world’s greatest repositories of decorative and applied art from antiquity to the present day, including an extensive collection of Victorian objects.
The first director of the museum was Henry Cole, one of the organizers of the 1851 World’s Fair. He expanded it to almost modern proportions and promoted its opening to the working class for the purpose of education. Most of the exhibits had a scientific and applied theme, which was of interest to different segments of the population.
Gradually, the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (with their direct and active participation) absorbed household items and works of art of many peoples of Europe, Asia and the East. Today it is as important as the largest museums of the world, thus attracting more and more visitors every year.
For the convenience of visitors, the vast museum complex has several cafes, where you can eat and relax, as well as a spacious courtyard under the open sky and several book and souvenir stores.
Exhibitions and exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
The museum’s collections are spread over six floors and can take more than a day to explore. The exhibitions are divided thematically by country and time frame. Signposts and information boards are located by the staircases and elevators, where you can familiarize yourself with the theme of each room and level of the building.
Opening the way to the museum is the extensive Renaissance collection, which occupies the entire first floor. Several halls contain works of art from European countries. Among them are statues, paintings and tapestries. There is also a separate part for costumes, which are also divided by epoch. Also the first floor of the complex contains a collection of domestic objects and works of art from Asia.
The second floor is full of European art, which includes works of interior and decoration, dated 300-1500 A.D. Separately, works of British masters from 1500-1760 are represented.
The third floor of the complex introduces visitors to precious silver, gold and other precious metal artifacts. Among the items in this collection are jewelry, household items, interior details, etc. There are also mosaic panels of different epochs. The art gallery occupies a rather big square, which contains those works, which are somehow or other connected with Great Britain. There is also a rich collection of photographs of the Victorian era, reflecting the life of that time.
The fourth floor of the Victoria and Albert Museum is devoted to models of buildings – the most important in the kingdom. The exhibition of British art, covering the period from 1760 to 1900, continues here. This floor also houses a rich collection of glassware, much of it from Queen Victoria’s era, but there are earlier and later examples as well.
The fifth floor of the building is completely devoted to meeting and conference rooms.
The sixth floor of the museum carefully preserves a vast collection of ceramics from different time periods, as well as samples of furniture not only from the XIX century, but also from earlier centuries.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the most visited arts and crafts complexes in the world and one of the top 20 in the world. It attracts visitors with free admission and the richest displays of the world’s art and everyday life.
V&A opening hours
The Victoria and Albert Museum is open to visitors from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:45.
Admission to the museum is free, only some private and temporary exhibitions may be commercial in nature. Check the V&A’s official website for a list and dates.
All rooms close 15 minutes before the museum closes. The museum weekend is on Catholic Christmas: December 24, 25 and 26.
How to get to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
The Victoria and Albert Museum is located near the center of London, so it is easy to get to it.
The fastest way to get around the British capital is the Tube . The nearest station is South Kensington (yellow, blue and green line). From there you can walk to the museum in 5 minutes.
You can get to the Victoria and Albert Museum and on land transport. The C1, 14, 74, 414, N74, N97 bus routes are suitable for this. They cover different parts of the city. The nearest stop to the museum – Victoria and Albert Museum – is located opposite the entrance to the building, which is convenient for visitors. At the end of the museum building is the South Kensington Museums 360 bus stop. It is also no more than a 2-minute walk to the entrance.
If you are travelling by car, there is a parking lot at the museum. The same applies to cyclists – they can leave their transport in a special bicycle parking.
You can also get to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London by cab – city cars or with the help of mobile applications: Uber, Kiwi and others. The trip around the city will be cheaper than the official carriers.
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum treasures
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London (The Victoria and Albert Museum, V&A for short) is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. The museum is located in the South Kensington area (South Kensington). It is one of the twenty most visited art museums in the world. The V&A covers 12.5 acres (5.1 hectares) and has 145 galleries.
The museum houses a vast, 5,000-year-old legacy of many of the world’s richest cultures, including ceramics, furniture, fashion items, glass, jewelry, metalwork, photographs, sculptures, textiles and paintings. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, fascinating exhibitions, demonstrations and events are constantly taking place here.
The museum was founded in 1852 under the influence of the success of the 1851 World’s Fair. Funding for its creation came from the proceeds of the exhibition. Initially, the museum was created in conjunction with the School of Design within the Department of Practical Art. The museum was greatly supported by Prince Consort Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. The museum actively purchased examples of decorative arts and crafts. Thanks to generous donations and not much demand for art at the time, the museum was able to quickly build up a large collection. In 1899, with the help of Queen Victoria, a new central museum building was laid out, and the museum was soon renamed in honor of the queen and her husband. Earlier, a series of buildings in South Kensington had been built for the museum.
The Victorian portions of the building have a complex history, with phased additions from various architects. Founded in May 1852, it was not until 1857 that the museum moved to its present site. The first building was designed by architectural engineer Francis Fawke. An ambitious design scheme was developed to decorate the various areas of the facade: a series of mosaic figures depicting famous European artists of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
The museum is also home to the National Art Library, which contains more than 750,000 books, photographs, drawings, paintings and prints. It is one of the largest libraries in the world devoted to the study of decorative arts. The library covers all areas and periods of the museum’s collections with special collections including sacred manuscripts, rare books and letters by artists and archives.
Structure of the museum The museum is not difficult to navigate – there are information boards with a map and floor plan near the elevators and stairs. The collections of the museum are located on 6 floors, and the 5th floor is for lectures, seminars and meetings of the museum club members. Admission, like to the other major museums in Britain, is free to visitors.
Collections by floor:
- Renaissance art (sculptures) 1300-1600.
- Raphael cards
- Asian Art
- British art 1500-1760 (sculpture)
- Europe 300-1600 (interiors and decorative objects)
- works of iron
- portrait miniatures
- art gallery, sculptures
- art nouveau of the 20th century
- British Art 1760-1900
- architecture (models of selected buildings)
I invite you to take a walk through selected rooms and exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which I was lucky enough to visit a few days ago. In 6 hours of continuous “walking” and admiring, I of course did not manage to go around all the halls, so I had to choose the most necessary and interesting directions for me.
The photos posted in the thread below were taken by me during my visit (except for the general views of the jewelry hall).
The main entrance to the museum, decorated with rich bas-reliefs and sculptures.
The inner courtyard of the museum with a decorative lake and a rest area for visitors.
Exit from the west wing of the building, which now houses a wooden installation commemorating the London Design festival.
A view out the window of the museum onto the courtyard. Every detail of the architecture of the building is amazing and worth special attention.
The ceiling, the stained-glass windows and the interior decoration of the museum’s café, north wing.
Extraordinary halls that accommodate art from different eras and cultures. Here you forget what century you are in!
This room made a special impression on me. I never thought that old elements and objects of history could be so harmoniously combined with new, progressive architectural constructions! On the whole, London is very fascinating in this respect precisely for this very feature – an unusually bright and expressive eclecticism that can’t help but inspire!
This room features elements of buildings that survived the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Other rooms at the V&A are part of the library and a display of midcentury furniture.
Glass Halls. Not only is the collection of glass objects unusual, but the decoration of the halls is as well-the stairs and railings are made of thousands of glass elements that shimmer in the light of the spotlights.
The hall of works of metal. Fascinating and inspiring exhibits!
Medieval halls. The most impressive thing for me was the variety of stained-glass windows.
Art Nouveau has a special place in my heart, as well as in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The decorative sculpture is also fascinating.
And the main thing that interested me were the 2 stunning halls with the history of jewelry! I stayed there for more than an hour And therefore, especially detailed photo report about the exhibits. There are pieces of jewelry from different times, from the first ones found in archeological excavations all over the world, to the modern, so-called contemporary jewelry.
That’s how cosmically beautiful these dark rooms look, capturing the eyes of visitors to their treasures in the showcases.
And some especially memorable and lucky exhibits in my photos.
A special love, of course, are the Art Nouveau pieces.
And a few more very original specimens. Alas, I did not have time to take pictures of all of them. But there is a reason to come back
In the near future I will continue to publish the most interesting places of Britain, which I was lucky enough to visit in recent years – these are other museums and exhibitions in London, as well as many unusual places in Scotland. These are the impressions that will remain in the mind and heart for years to come, and are definitely worth sharing!
And if you go to London – be sure to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the British Museum and Tate Britain. These are unequivocally my favorites, and I will definitely write about them in my next publications.
I hope you enjoyed this little virtual journey through the museum. If so, see you again!