Victoria and Albert Museum – V&A
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, named after Queen Victoria and his husband Prince Albert and often shortened to V&A, is one of the world’s most important museums dedicated to decorative arts. The museum also holds major collections of British and international fine art, photography, architecture, design, and fashion.
History and mission
The museum was founded in 1852, with the aim to “make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers“. In 1909, the institution, previously known as South Kensington Museum, moved to its current home on Exhibition Road / Cromwell Road, designed by British architect Aston Webb, and thereafter renamed Victoria and Albert Museum.
Collections and galleries
As anticipated, the collections of the V&A museum span a wide set of topics related to fine art and applied arts. The collections somewhat reflect the “universality” of the former British Empire and, along with European pieces, also include a large number of works from China, South Asia, and the Islamic Middle East.
The gallery of Decorative Arts presents large collections of Asian, American, African and European furniture, ceramics, glass, jewelry, silverware & ironwork, textiles, musical instruments, and wood carvings dating from the 4thmillennium BC onward.
The Photography collection comprises over 5,000 works by many acclaimed photographers, including Eadweard Muybridge, Man Ray, Cartier-Bresson, and Cecil Beaton.
The Architecture gallery, conducted together with the Royal Institute of British Architects, covers the history of architecture of the last five centuries, from original drawings by Andrea Palladio up to Zaha Hadid’s building models.
The Fashion exhibition features costumes and accessories from the 17th century to the present, including pieces by Vivienne Westwood, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani, Mary Quant and Pierre Cardin. A special section is dedicated to British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
The Art collection encompasses paintings, drawings, and sculptures. It includes works by Raphael, Perugino, Botticelli, Luca Della Robbia, Donatello, Lorenzo Bernini, Giuliano da Sangallo, Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Antonio Canova, William Turner, John Constable, Auguste Rodin, and Paul Cezanne, among many others.
The museum also accommodates the National Art Library, which preserves rare books and manuscripts, such as the Codex Forster by Leonardo Da Vinci and rare editions of books by Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Boccaccio, and Moliére.
The Victoria and Albert Museum organizes major temporary exhibitions; sculpture exhibitions are frequently installed into the museum’s garden.
Fully accessible to people with disabilities, the V&A museum building also includes two cafes, a gift shop, and the Sackler Centre, a facility established in 2008 to accommodate educational programs focused on art and creativity.
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