Victoria and Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert Museum

Museum, that holds the name of Victoria and Albert, houses the world's largest collection of decorative arts, design and housing items. The Queen and her husband, Prince Albert, were passionate collectors of the items of fine arts and craft, so the museum became the symbol of their love and art education. Collection of the museum, which consists of four million exhibits, has been attracting visitors for more than 150 years. The Museum of Manufactures, as the V&A was known in 1852, was opened personally by Queen Victoria and later was transformed into Science Museum. The current building in Cromwell Road was built at the end of the 19th century. These days it does not only house and exhibit museum items but also is the centre for research and education projects. The beauty of the facade magnifies; the main entrance stylistically was designed as the portal of Medieval cathedral. Sculpture of Prince Albert appears within the main arch above the twin entrances. Still the greater impression comes from the interiors and cultural value of the collection: paintings, sculptures, fabrics, furniture, jewellery and photographs that cover all the ages. The idea of the Queen was to establish the museum that would encourage spiritual and cultural development of people of all classes. This concept was completely fulfilled: marble walls and the floor symbolize the majesty of the British Kingdom.

Fifteen British galleries display major periods of British art and are devoted to household of the English noble families. Every department is decorated according to the country it displays. Special department is devoted to Asian art and displays incredible carpets, jewellery and china. Extensive collection of clothing belonging to different historic periods impresses even fashion experts and includes among others hats, shoes and accessories.

In Cast Court there are displayed hundreds of plaster casts of sculptures, friezes and tombs. Incredible collection of the museum also includes reproductions of various works of Italian Renaissance sculpture and architecture, including a full-size replica of Michelangelo's David. This replica is particularly famous because it was decorated with a fig leaf for the visits of Queen Victoria.

The furniture collection is very impressive and comprises decorative and household items of great period. The jewellery collection (photographing is prohibited in this section), containing silver items as well, is one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of jewellery in the world. It is displayed on the third floor. Several galleries are devoted to architecture, ceramics and glass exhibits.

Among others, visitors can enjoy the paintings by Rembrandt, Raphael, Gainsborough and Botticelli. The sixth floor houses the unique collection of paintings by John Constable. All in all, there are 6 levels and 140 galleries in the museum, the admission is free. If you visit all galleries the distance will be around 7 miles. Within the modernization, the museum opens new galleries and holds temporary exhibitions. In the neighbouring streets there is Science Museum and Natural History Museum. The museum also runs Museum of Childhood, it is located in Bethnal Green, close to the tube with the same name. Admission is free.

Address: Cromwell Road
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun 10 am - 5:45 pm, Fri 10 am – 10 pm, closed Dec 24-26.
How to reach: tube South Kensington; bus 14, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430, C1, N74, N97, Open Tour Bus.
Coordinates: 51.49661, -0.17218