Results 1-10of 24 Reviews
Rotherham, United Kingdom
August 8, 2012
From journal Musuems and Galleries
Grimsby, England, United Kingdom
July 22, 2012
From journal London Pt. 1
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
May 26, 2011
From journal London Museums Big & Small
London, United Kingdom
September 15, 2010
July 10, 2009
From journal Musings on London's Museums
Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom
December 24, 2008
From journal Three Days Spent Investigating London
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
November 8, 2008
From journal The London Bucket
New Delhi, India
August 13, 2006
The Victoria and Albert is just over 150 years old--it was established in 1852 as the South Kensington Museum (it was given its present name in 1899). Originally housing a collection of art and science exhibits, the museum shifted its focus to the arts in 1913, and since then has been one of the world’s most respected art collections.
Being short of time, we couldn’t see each of the 145 galleries in the 11-acre museum. But among the most awesome exhibits we saw were:
1. The Raphael Cartoons, preliminary `sketches’ of Biblical scenes, by Raphael. Each was between 40 and 50 square feet in area, and all served as the bases for Flemish tapestries.2. The English Galleries, crowded with amazingly well-preserved and interesting items from medieval England. There are embroidered jackets; the wedding attire of James II; lace collars, gloves and bedspreads- and a section dedicated to the exquisite embroideries of a certain 17th century maiden called Martha Edlin, whose major work was executed when she was about 12 years old!Also part of these galleries are musical instruments and pieces of intricately carved furniture, such as the Great Bed of Ware, first mentioned in the 15th century as being at an inn in Ware (Hertfordshire). Shakespeare refers to the bed in Twelfth Night.3. The Chinese Gallery, bursting with paintings, imperial robes, jade ornaments and utensils, and splendid porcelain, including a curvy Ming vase that you can touch. Another highlight of the gallery is a stunning imperial throne made of finely carved, lacquered wood. Lovely!4. The Japanese Gallery, which, although it’s dominated by samurai swords and costumes, has some beautiful porcelain and woodwork (there’s a foot-long tiger carved from wood, its stripes lightly polished while the rest of its body had a matte finish. Exquisite.) Best of all were the netsuke, tiny and perfect carvings of birds, animals, and so on, that were used as counterbalances for items slung on a cord and looped through the obi of a kimono.5. The two Cast Courts, massive glass-covered pavilions that contain plaster casts of the best classical European sculpture. Among the casts are Michelangelo’s David; an Irish cross; the pulpit of Pisa Cathedral; Trajan’s Column; and various friezes and statues.The Cast Courts are about 150 years old- David, in fact, was gifted to Queen Victoria in 1856. The gallery between the two Cast Courts contains religious works, enameled reliquaries, carved ivory crucifixes, diptychs, and triptychs. Among the latter, a 9th-century Carolingian triptych is particularly lovely.
My verdict: a museum that’s hard to beat. If you like arts and crafts, do visit.The V&A’s open from 10 till 5.45 daily, and till 10 on Wednesday and the last Friday of the month except in December. Entry is free. There’s a café, a shop, and free daily tours and talks. Check at the entrance of the museum for details on tours.
From journal London Revisited: Something Old, Something New
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
August 21, 2005
A large museum more in the mold of a spacious art gallery than the British Museum (its closest intellectual counterpart), it's somewhere you can rush through in a couple of hours, or take a day to appreciate in depth. Alternatively, you can focus on particular exhibitions of interest to you, although whatever you do, don't miss the impressive collection of South Asian art, authoritative British Galleries, or the unique collection of casts of famous sculptures that deserves to be a museum unto itself. (Actually, since it has two viewing levels so that you can see them from the ground and above, it practically is!)
The ground floor South Asian galleries are an absolute delight, not only because of the beauty of their contents but also because of the careful manner in which they're displayed and explained. Most European museums don't make as much of an effort to distinguish between non-Western regional styles, but the V & A's doing so allowed me to come away with a far better understanding of this area's venerable and diverse artistic traditions. The British Galleries, which span Levels 2 (1500-1760) and 4 (1760-1900) are concerned more with presenting the evolution of a single cohesive design tradition and do so admirably, if you have the slightest interest in history or art they're an essential sight in London. On the subject of the latter, the V&A has a respectable collection of paintings, but the third floor Sculpture Galleries, which present detailed information on the artistic process as well as works themselves, are more memorable. These sculpture galleries are adjacent to an overlook for the incomparable ground-floor collection of casts – surely the best collection of its kind in existence!
Impressive as the permanent collections are (although an unusually high number suffer from temporary closures), you shouldn't neglect to look into what temporary exhibitions are on display, particularly since these are often free – and the variety is breathtaking. In addition there are quite frequently various site specific contemporary art installations in the building itself. Even if you enter through the tunnel linking the V&A with the South Kensington tube station, be sure to stroll outside to Exhibition Road in order to both appreciate its context (the Science Museum, Imperial College, and Natural History Museum are across the street) and to note the damage its exterior suffered during the Blitz.
From journal London For Nothing - Seeing Sights for Free
by captain kait
Houghton, New York
June 18, 2005
With so many areas to cover, it's hard to know where to start. There are certainly some that are more popular and always safe bets. For example, the plaster cast galleries are crammed with full-size replicas of famous artwork, including Michelangelo's David, which is probably enough for a museum of its own. The fashion galleries show you what the people of the past really looked like. Wild and wacky can be found alongside the typical in furniture. Just keep exploring. As you venture into the higher levels, you'll meet fewer and fewer people. In the ceramics gallery, I found myself looking at some of the oldest man-made objects in existence without anyone in sight. Also, the V&A is built around central enclosed gardens, which are very peaceful. Even in this popular museum, there are places to get away.
My favorite part of the V&A, though, has to be the British Galleries. These house furniture, linens, table settings, textiles, and much more from Britain's past, all arranged in chronological order. This can provide an overview of the "decorative art" history or become a place for lengthy exploration. There are reading and computer research lounges spaced throughout, as well as several fully furnished historical rooms rebuilt inside the museum. Many of the exhibits allow you to discover as much or as little as you like, from lengthy explanation books to short documentary films. And, best of all, the curators have made these galleries kid-friendly. There are periodic stops with designated areas for hands-on exploration, which could include a small craft project or feeling the weight of a sword. My favorite activity (I won't lie, I enjoyed them) was trying on a corset and hoop skirt. Though there are interesting items to be found throughout the V&A, the British Galleries simply provide a wonderful whole-package museum experience that transports you into a different world.
As you leave the V&A, be sure to take a look around the outside of the building, where you can see bomb damage from the Blitz. Fortunately for all, the museum survived and houses treasures for every age and interest.
From journal London Museums