London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

The Victoria And Albert Museum (V&A) - Part 2

12/10/2003, By David McIntosh

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 17443 votes


Among the other items you can view: the wedding suit of James II, Henry VIIIís writing desk and the Great Bed of Ware. The collections of the Victoria and Albert also include silver, ceramics, glass, jewellery, silks (including the Spitalfields silks) and furniture. Among the manufacturers represented are Wedgwood and Royal Doulton.

The idea behind the V&A when it first opened was to provide, according to Henry Cole, the museumís first director, a "classroom" for everybody" as well as serve as an inspiration for British designers and industry as introduce the working class to the decorative arts; in other words a museum that would serve as an educational institution. With that in mind a number of educational programs are offered and every effort has been made to make a visit to Victoria and Albert not only enjoyable but also informative.

The Great Bed of Ware

Family events include the successful backpack tours and on weekends a number of demonstrations covering a wide range of subjects are offered. For kids there are craft and drawing activities and for adults a series of lectures, debates along with after hours tours, viewings and live performances. For those who want to learn more about a particular subject the V&A has courses on various subjects such tapestries, textiles, drawing and painting or photography and other areas in the arts, courses that appeal to anyone from the amateur to the expert.

There are also special exhibits guaranteed to broaden your knowledge of subjects you may not have even known you wanted to know about; for example recently the Victoria and Albert held the first major exhibition of poster and artwork from Bollywood, the home of the Indian movie industry, and a major cultural force on the Indian subcontinent.

Youíll also find the only exhibit in Europe dedicated to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose Midwestern style of architecture continues to influence American architects and at one time was seen as legitimate alternative to the German Bauhaus school of design.

Henry VIII's Writing Desk

One of the most British of many traditions to be found in the United Kingdom are the proms or the BBC Promenade Concerts, a series of orchestral and chamber music events considered the high point of the year by music lovers throughout the British Isles. And the V&A plays a part in the prom season by hosting a number of chamber music performances as well as lectures and composer portraits. For the performances advance purchase of tickets is recommended while the lectures and composer portraits are free and open to the public, but be aware that space is limited and youíll probably want to show up early to make sure you get a seat.

Today one visit to the museum located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea will be enough to convince you that the proprietors have succeeded admirably in their efforts to bring the Victoria and Albert into the 21st century. But, after one visit youíll want to visit again Ė thereís simply too much to take in with just one visit.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is located on Cromwell Road, South Kensington. The nearest underground station is South Kensington, it s just a short walk from there. Admission is free and guided tours are available.

You can find out more about the V&A at their website: www.vam.ac.uk

David McIntosh


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