- Mika Vepsalainen
The Victoria and Albert Museum - the World’s Largest Museum of Applied Arts and Design
Join us for a visit to one of the jewels in London, the world’s largest collection of design with some 2.5 million objects spanning over 5,000 years of art and design from all over the world from ancient Chinese Ceramics to Alexander McQueen evening dresses!
The Victorria & Albert Museum was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is located in London's Museum Quarter, sometimes also called “Albertopolis” for its association with Prince Albert, including the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and the Imperial College London.
You enter the V&A through an impressive entrance only to arrive in only a more impressive lobby. From there on, you will find dedicated rooms for different culture exhibitions in 145 galleries covering over five hectares of exhibition space. You really need to take advantage of the very informative interactive map in the museum. The museum sports over five thousand years of human creativity in every possible area of design from Asia and Europe to North Africa and North Asia, including ceramics, costumes, drawings, furniture, glass, ironwork, jewellery, medieval objects, photographs, prints and printmaking, sculpture, silver, and textiles.
In terms of "must" rooms, do not forget to visit the extremely beautiful cast room. it really deserves a good look or even several visits. The post-classical sculpture collection is the largest in the world. Their Italian Renaissance collection alone has the largest number of items outside Italy. The Asian sections show design from South Asia, China, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world. Anothr section deserving several visits is their superb photography section!
Queen Victoria established the museum following the Great Exhibition of 1851 as the Museum of Manufactures. Not only Charles Darwing and Charles Dickens but six million other people - the equivalent of one-third of the British population - visited the opening exhibition. In 1857 the museum moved to the current building where it was the first in the world to provide refreshment rooms: the concept of a museum café was born here - one of the main issues in our blog. Please see below!
Despite the huge size, this museum is a pleasure to visit for everybody. It is fully accessible. Persons in wheelchairs are invited to enter through the Cromwell Road entrance providing good ramps and automatic doors that are activated by a push plate button. Unfortunately the Exhibition Road and the Tunnel entrances are not wheelchair accessible. Despite the 18 split levels there is an excellent wheelchair access throughout the museum, thanks to additional ramps and, in Gallery 40 and the Jewellery Gallery platform lifts that provide access to upper levels.
There are four accessible toilets on the premise with step free access and doors wide enough for manual and power wheelchairs.
The V&A Main Shop, Fashion Shop and Exhibition Road Quarter Shop are open during museum opening hours. As the V&A is a charity, every purchase made in the shops helps to support the museum.
After your stroll in the museum, check the excellent restaurant that is not only impressive with its menu but also its design. The opulently decorated rooms named after their designers Gamble, Poynter and Morris, reflect the eclectic tastes of the Victorian era. The Garden Café is is a hidden oasis in the centre of the building and is open all year round, the weather permitting. The Cafés are open from 10 to 17, Monday to Sunday.
Last but not least, the museum is free - just enjoy!
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL