• Museums
  • Art and design
Critics' choice
18 Love It
Exterior of V&A © Peter Kelleher
Sculpture Gallery © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
David Bowie bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour, David Bowie temporary exhibition 2014 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
John Madejski Garden © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Renaissance City 1350 - 1600 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Tippo's Tiger ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Staffordshire 'Tea Total' piece in Ceramics Hall © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
V&A Cafe © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
V&A shop © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Brompton Free

The V&A is one of the world’s – let alone London's – most magnificent museums, its foundation stone laid on this site by Queen Victoria in her last official public engagement in 1899. It is a superb showcase for applied arts from around the world, appreciably calmer than its tearaway cousins on the other side of Exhibition Road. Some 150 grand galleries on seven floors contain countless pieces of furniture, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, posters, jewellery, metalwork, glass, textiles and dress, spanning several centuries. Items are grouped by theme, origin or age: for advice, tap the patient staff, who field a formidable combination of leaflets, floor plans, general knowledge and polite concern.

Highlights include the seven Raphael Cartoons painted in 1515 as tapestry designs for the Sistine Chapel; the finest collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy; the Ardabil carpet, the world’s oldest and arguably most splendid floor covering, in the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art; and the Luck of Edenhall, a thirteenth-century glass beaker from Syria. The Fashion galleries run from eighteenth-century court dress right up to contemporary chiffon numbers; the Architecture gallery has videos, models, plans and descriptions of various styles; and the famous Photography collection holds over 500,000 images.

Over more than a decade, the V&A’s on-going FuturePlan transformation has been a revelation. The completely refurbished Medieval & Renaissance Galleries are stunning, but there are many other eye-catching new or redisplayed exhibits: they were preceded by the restored mosaic floors and beautiful stained glass of the fourteenth- to seventeenth-century sculpture rooms, just off the central John Madejski Garden, and followed by the Furniture Galleries – an immediate hit on opening in late 2012. On a smaller scale, the Gilbert Collection of silver, gold and gemmed ornaments arrived from Somerset House; the Ceramics Galleries have been renovated and supplemented with an eye-catching bridge; there’s lovely Buddhist sculpture in the Robert HN Ho Family Foundation Galleries; and the Theatre & Performance Galleries took over where Covent Garden’s defunct Theatre Museum left off.

Newer additions include the museum's 'Rapid Response Collection' features examples of contemporary design and architecture, particularly those that represent important events and current affairs. The ambitious Europe 1600-1815 galleries, which cost £12.5m, will open in December 2015. A stunning 4m-long table fountain – painstakingly reconstructed from eighteenth-century fragments – is the centrepiece of seven new galleries, taking a chronological and thematic approach to European clothes, furnishings and other artefacts. The Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art reopened in November 2015, exhibiting 550 works from the sixth century to the present day. Look out for the first ever Sony Walkman, a Hello Kitty rice cooker and an origami outfit by Issey Miyake. See a slideshow of highlights from the collection.

See more of London's best museums

Venue name: V&A
Address: Cromwell Rd
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sat, Sun 10am-5.45pm; Fri 10am-10pm
Transport: Tube: South Kensington
Price: Free (permanent collection); admission charge applies for some temporary exhibitions
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  • Until Monday March 28 2016
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  • Until Sunday January 3 2016 Free
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  • Painting Until Sunday April 24 2016 Free
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  • Photography Until Sunday February 14 2016 Free
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  • Until Sunday January 31 2016
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  • Until Sunday January 10 2016
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  • Walks and tours Saturday November 28 2015 Free
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  • Performance Monday December 28 2015 - Monday January 4 2016 Free
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  • Exhibitions Saturday April 16 2016 - Sunday March 12 2017 Free
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  • Exhibitions Saturday May 21 2016 - Sunday October 9 2016 Free
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:16
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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1 of 1 found helpful

A superb museum. I especially like the pearl exhibition. But the free fashion room through the ages was also something not to be missed. A great all-rounder of a museum.


I went to the shoe exhibition recently. Apart from the heat in there it was one of my favourite exhibits this year. The history of each shoe and the diversity and variety they had were quite impressive. They even had Carrie's myth shoe, the infamous Noami Campbell shoes that she fell over in and foot binding shoes that were unimaginably small. I'm more of a trainers lover and to see a adidas collectors section was quite refreshing. Taking on a first person perspective   up the stairs was a nice touch to something vast.

Kritt N

Simply a superb museum and like it's sibling museum just across the road, it's entirely free. Showcasing some of the finest art from around the world, the V&A has 150 galleries shared between 7 floors and exhibiting a broad range of artifacts including furniture, ceramics, furniture and many, many more. Highlights for me has always been the Medieval and Renaissance galleries because I love studying that era but if you're into that, somewhere in the museum you will find something to your liking, such is it's vast collection. In the summer, be sure to take advantage of the beautiful weather and bask in the sunshine inside the central John Madjeski Garden. There's a lot to see and if you love art, then the V&A is the place to be

Richard N

Hands down favourite 'mainstream' museum with amazing exhibits and well thought out special ones. Well curated and worth a few repeat visits.

Tom Bruce

Cultural heritage is a fine thing, and the V & A puts it on display better than anywhere else. Many term it the best museum in the world; it deserves this compliment of all compliments, for the sheer size and range of its collection. Artefacts from every human era and corner of the globe can be found here, complimented by such gorgeous surroundings which are themselves a kind of artefact. The entire building is a work of fine art, with four different eras of architecture knitted together seamlessly over the last century as the museum's holdings of material design expanded and expanded. There are departments for giant renaissance paintings, Greek and Roman sculpture (including some arches for ancient Italy, which were somehow built into the construction of the V & A), Middle Eastern finery, Chinese dynastic masterpieces, Egyptian archaeological finds, plus all manner of modern craftwork starting from basic mechanical engineering and extending to photography, film, and skyscrapers. 

Exhibitions at the V & A are always excellent, whether free or not. Two are normally on concurrently, one at no cost for entry - as is the case for the museum overall since 2001 - and the other slightly more niche show charging about £10 or £15. No one can cry foul about that, though: they get to go to a museum which literally stores mountains of the world's treasures, all under one roof, without having to pay a penny. As with the Natural History Museum and, to a lesser extent, the Science Museum, there is far, far, far too much to witness on a lone visit. Browse at leisure, come back another time, and repeat. There's no getting bored here. 


Absolutely one of London's top museums. I became a member after my first visit because I loved it so much (and also because the queues can be an absolute ballache...). There are always fantastic exhibitions on, showing some really great design history such as their current 'What is Luxury', 'Shoes: Pain and Pleasure' and the infamous Alexander McQueen exhibits.

Location is lovely, and there are plenty of delicious places to stop off at to get away from the tourists nearby. I recommend choosing a clear day as there is no covered area to queue outside (better still - become a member, it's so worth it!)


By far one of the best museums in London. The Victoria & Albert museum never fails to impress me. There's always a good run of different shows and expos. The best one to date has to be Savage Beauty by Alexander McQueen! Just breathtaking! I'm also a big fan of the V&A lates - a great chance to wonder around the museum with a beer in hand. The mosaic-ed cafe gets me every time, it's just so beautiful and the food is pretty damn good too! I also love how the coffee is served in William Morris inspired paper cups, to pretty to recycle! 

Victoria A

Love the fashion display in the V&A . Have to visit that section every time I went there. Usually spend several hours in the museum.

Curated London

Review for Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography

Visitors to the V&A’s Glamour of Italian Fashion get a bonus prize - this lovely exhibition of fashion photography in the room next door. All the names you’d expect are featured, from Cecil Beaton’s early work for Vogue to modern artists like Wolfgang Tillmans and Miles Aldridge. Through a beautiful collection of photographs, visitors can see the transition of fashion photography from advertising material through to art form in its own right. 

For more art in plain English, check out http://www.curatedlondon.co.uk


I love the V&A - it is without doubt my favourite museum in London - the exhibitions are great and whilst it does lean towards fashion and jewellery it doesn't stop there and it most certainly doesn't limit male interest - my boyfriend is also a great fan. The Bowie exhibition of 2013 will go down as my all time favourite exhibition and I went to it several times. There is always something of interest on at the V&A and I recommend it to all.

Parul Bhargava

This is a the Royal museum . This is free of cost ,even the cloak room is free of cost , allowing you to see the museum without worries. The museum captures good history of the Britain and the common wealth . It has some extra ordinary collection of jewellery exhibit ranging from 400 BC till today . It also had an exhibit around Fashion which was amazing . I also went to the Rink at Natural History Museum which is just next to it and open till Jan 5th . Awesome experience overall.


Friday Lates are brilliant with a varied program of events often including music and performance. Combine with dinner in the restaurant for a great evening out.

Charlotte White

Without a doubt the best museum in London!! I absolutely love the range of exhibitions and the opportunities they give students as well as members of the public to get involved. Their workshops are invaluable to students and provide an insight into the work which goes into each exhibition display. I found the staff friendly and useful but most importantly they had something to interest anyone who attends. There is plenty to do for children and adults alike. A fantastic day out and very easy to get to!

Kelsey J

By far my favourite museum in London - likely because design is such an all-encompassing term you can find exhibits on fashion, theatre, ironwork, jewellery, stone, books, and everything in between. It also has beautiful tea rooms and a lovely garden which make great lunch or break places. Fantastic atmosphere and so much to see - plan ahead if there is anything in particular you wish to see.


Great exhibitions on a very nice location. Nice to see is rom which presents fashion.

Lee Preston

This is a must see location for all ages. Experience the visual delights and absorb the atmosphere that this place creates. Do it.......Do it NOW! (or at least wait till they open) ;-)


I love, love, love the V&A!! It houses an eclectic collection of interesting and beautiful objects from around the world. Faves are the Jewel room and the ballroom cafe. Also great stuff for kids to do.


I stopped in front of V&A casually while i was walking down Cromwell Road, there was a fashion exhibition. Now i'm a fan!


Great temporary and permanent exhibitions, especially those about fashion. Great late night events too.


Make this a must for young and old Spend all day or just a few hours hands on interactive modern presentation Food and easy access speak to the staff get an insiders quide Check out htere special events on there website This and then an afternoon touring the city stop and shop perfect


Beautiful displays, my favourite area was the jewlery display and also the garden outside was a lovely suprise and it was a nice area to have an impromptu lunch in the sun. There was a cafe that was selling delicious looking food and you could sit in beautiful rooms, but outside was also great, lots of families with young children having fun in the pond. A very nice place to visit alone or with children.


I love this place, I always try and get down to see the special exhibitions. The timed entrances to these stagger the visitors attending so you get to see the items without being jostled about. I last saw the History of Couture here, I love the fashion displays, they are displayed as beautiful works of art. A beautiful venue, and a cup of tea and a cake in the courtyard is a most welcome treat too!