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.
|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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A History Of Photography: The Body
View the variety of approaches to capturing images of the human body, from the invention of the medium to today; exploring themes such as sexuality, beauty, growth and ageing, and from both artistic and scientific approaches.Photography Until Sunday February 19 2017Read more
Forgive the old bus analogy but: you wait decades for a decent exhibition of the early Renaissance’s dreamiest purveyor of mythological scenes, Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), then two come along at once. However, this coincidence isn’t due to a curatorial...Renaissance art Until Sunday July 3 2016Read more
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Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York
This glam little exhibition makes the V&A's permanent 'Theatre and Performance' collection look positively drab with its flashing lights, sequins and showstoppers. It's a collection of posters, costumes, artefacts and recordings that represent the biggest...Exhibitions Until Wednesday August 31 2016 FreeRead more
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Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design
This exhibition charts the career of Ove Arup (1895-1988), an incredibly influential engineer of the 20th century whose projects include the Sydney Opera House and Penguin Pool at the London Zoo. Large scale prototypes, building components, digital animations,...Exhibitions Until Sunday October 9 2016 FreeRead more
Master Strokes: Dutch And Flemish Drawings From The Golden Age
Seventy drawings, including masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt and van Dyck, roughly spanning the seventeenth century, plus landscapes, portraiture and religious works from the sixteenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that demonstrate the influence...Drawing and illustration Until Sunday November 13 2016Read more
Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century
Goodness: It’s a quality you probably appreciate in your mum. But in an artist? We’re taught from an early age to admire art’s bad boys and girls, from Caravaggio via Picasso to Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. They have the coolest lives and make the best...Photography Until Sunday July 3 2016Read more
Models, visualisations, sketches and mock ups of a new entrance, gallery, courtyard, shop and cafe for the V&A, including details of the final chosen design.Architecture Until Saturday October 15 2016Read more
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Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear
The V&A is a victim of its own success. Ever since the Alexander McQueen exhibition ‘Savage Beauty’, with its drama, tragedy and preposterous gorgeousness, the bar for their fashion exhibitions has been set impossibly high. While this is not another ‘Savage...Exhibitions Until Sunday March 12 2017Read more
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Samsung Digital Classroom Workshops
The V&A's new Digital Classroom in collaboration with Samsung is a space in which 16-19 year olds can learn new digital skills benefitting from experts in the field as their tutors. Sessions span project mapping with Samsung Digital Art Resident, Yiyun...Classes and workshops Saturday May 28 2016 - Saturday June 11 2016Read more
Things to do
Raiders of the Lost Archive
An escape the room style happening, tasking teams of adventurers with clues and puzzles hidden across the V&A. Choose your team mates based on wits not speed and be prepared to lay false trails for other competitors in order to get ahead. Visit the Raiders...Quirky events Sunday May 29 2016 - Sunday June 5 2016Read more
Average User Rating
4.6 / 5
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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.
Fantastic building! The courtyard is particularly stunning in the summer. I really enjoyed the Asian artifacts, some great unusual pieces. The place is huge so you will need at least a day! The temporary exhibitions tend to be interesting too although a little expensive and often very busy.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!