V&A

Museums , Art and design Brompton Free
Critics' choice
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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(37 user reviews)
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Exterior of V&A © Peter Kelleher
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Sculpture Gallery © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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David Bowie bodysuit for Aladdin Sane tour, David Bowie temporary exhibition 2014 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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John Madejski Garden © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Renaissance City 1350 - 1600 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Tippo's Tiger ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Staffordshire 'Tea Total' piece in Ceramics Hall © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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V&A Cafe © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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V&A shop © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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.

Read about our favourite seven exhibits at the V&A or see more of London's best museums

Venue name: V&A
Contact:
Address: Cromwell Rd
London
SW7 2RL
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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  • Exhibitions Until Friday April 28 2017 Free
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  • Photography Until Sunday February 19 2017
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  • Exhibitions Until Wednesday August 31 2016 Free
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  • Exhibitions Until Sunday October 9 2016
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  • Drawing and illustration Until Sunday November 13 2016
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  • Architecture Until Saturday October 15 2016
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  • Exhibitions Until Sunday March 12 2017
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  • Exhibitions Saturday September 3 2016 - Sunday January 8 2017 Free
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  • Exhibitions Saturday September 10 2016 - Sunday January 15 2017
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Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:26
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|37
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Kate
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.

Ladyvp
Tastemaker

I adore this museum! It has an amazing array of art from various time periods. The jewelry collection is a thing of dreams. The historical clothes are worth admiring. If anything the architecture of the building is a thing of beauty. They have also kept all the damage from the blitz on the outside walls which is a nice touch to remind us of more somber times. 

elladacas
tastemaker

NOW THIS is what you call a Museum! 


I've been here several times for different events and occasions, yet each time I find myself taken away by the grandeur and splendour which lies within those walls!


Its large and even has a large shallow pool like feature is in the middle of the musuem which happens to be in the open.

At Summer time kids have a ball in it! This is the museum you bring your friend to who is visiting town or your mother in law whom you wish to impress lol. deal sealer either way!

kayleighar
tastemaker

The Victoria & Albert Museum sets the highest of standards for museums everywhere. It’s an institution for creative excellence; everywhere you turn there is something to marvel, from the extensive historical permanent exhibitions to the awe-inspiring and informative pop-up displays, even the grand buildings that house the vast collections are architectural wonders. It is easy to spend a whole day wandering inside and still not see everything, and so much on display promises you’ll notice something new every time you visit.

Henry Cole, the first director, believed the museum should be a ‘schoolroom for everyone’; he aimed to inspire, educate and allow everyone to celebrate art and design, regardless of class, wealth or social standing. Today it houses substantial collections promoting art from cultures all over the world, covering all artistic disciplines from fine art painting and sculpture, fashion and textiles, furniture design and ceramics, and all other decorative art you can imagine. It also presents and encourages the appreciation of homegrown industries like British silver. 

Through recent years the V&A has been home to some of the most iconic exhibitions in Europe, most notably the retrospectives of David Bowie and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. It’s curators obtain and present unique and beautiful pieces that inform and provoke understanding of historical and cultural evolutions. 

The museum continues it's original aim of promoting equality to the people through art, to make it accessible for all to enjoy, and it’s ongoing dedication to celebrating international creativity. 


One of the pieces that has always resonated with me is the sculpture dedicated to the premature death of the Countess Emily Georgiana of Winchelsea. Written by the Countess to console her grieving husband, the haunting poem is both melancholic yet optimistic regarding what lies beyond this life:


All my life coldly and sadly the days have gone by

I who dreamed wildly and madly am happy to die

Long since my heart has been breaking its pain is past

A time has been set to its aching, peace comes at last

Grace I
Tastemaker

Simply one of the world's best and most unique museums, filled with art, sculpture, furniture, fashion and other kinds of decorative arts. The recently restored Medieval and Renaissance Galleries will provide you with a better history lesson than most school textbooks. Plan on an entire day here and wander slowly through the entire museum. The special exhibits (Bowie, McQueen, Hollywood film costumes, just to name a few) rightly sell out due to their high quality, and the gift store is to die for, but bring a large wallet--the exquisite scarves, jewellery and other items are not cheap. The cafe is lovely but always packed, so go early or late and not exactly at lunchtime. The courtyard is also a wonderful place to eat, but it also gets very crowded. I've done research in the Art Library there and have a special affection for a museum that provides so much wonder and joy to everyone who walks in.

Izzy K
Tastemaker

By far the best museum in London, but I’d even risk to say, the best in the world.


The monumental building, full of hidden corners filled out with treasures from the old British colonies never stop surprising. You can come back again and again and always find or spot something you haven’t seen before.


But apart the core collection, which covers anything from iron gates to theatre costumes, the museum brings the best temporary exhibitions in the city (the retrospective of the late David Bowie was definitely one of the best).


One of my favourite parts is the photography room with constantly changing exhibition of the earliest masters of the craft. But it doesn’t end there. I will always come back to see the kimonos and samurai sword collection in the Japanese section.  And of course, the fashion. If it wasn’t enough for the brilliant permanent collection of costumes from the the previous centuries, for the last few years the museum offered many fantastic fashion exhibitions, including its biggest ever block buster, 'Alexander McQueen: the Savage Beauty.' 


What’s also important, is that the museum constantly evolves  and manages to engage its audience of all ages, not only the old ladies that have been paying their membership for the last 30 years. The highly successful programme of Friday Lates, with which the museum opened its doors to many unknown young local artists always attract crowds of visitors and is great fun for body and mind.


But let’s not forget the shops! The V&A shops are a well of stylish and original presents ideas, from classy shawls and jewellery to intelligent and super cute toys while the original Victorian tea room, with its beautiful stain glasses is just another reason to visit V&A.

bailey1988
Tastemaker

Fantastic museum, not only is the building is visually stunning, the exhibitions are great too. I recently went to Undressed which documented underwear through the ages. A great way to spend a day. Perfect for a rainy day. Be sure to visit the restaurant as the dining room is spectacular and the shop has some unusual gift ideas. In summer, sit out in the courtyard and dip your toes in the fountain.

Mei M
Tastemaker

This is definitely my favourite museum in London. If you love design, jewellery, and beautiful things you will be so fascinated. Everything is an inspiration at the V&A; I often go there when I'm out of ideas for drawings and sketches and it's always worth it. 


The permanent exhibition is wonderful, and also the temporary ones they organise are usually amazing. I've been to the one for Alexander McQueen and I was so impressed.


Another thing I love about this museum is the shop. You can find great designers' accessories, books, gift ideas. Also, the cafeteria is amazing, both because of the beauty of the building and for the selection of cakes they have. On a nice day, you can enjoy your coffee in the lovely garden in front of it, still one of my favourite spots in London.


A real must-see of the city!

Ed. T
Tastemaker

With the Science/Natural History museum round the corner, the V&A tends to be a bit overlooked. Which is a shame given that I would say it's actually far more interesting and exciting to walk around, but then a positive as it means the queues are always FAR smaller! 


Most of the exhibits are free, there is a ridiculously large amount to see (I still have yet to actually see everything in one day), and the V&A is a much better environment to walk around and really enjoy. Personal favourite is definitely the iron gate displays. Who knew iron gates could be so interesting?!?!

Tiago Almeida
Tastemaker

One of best museum in London by far. The permanent displays are always free and the special exhibitions are generally really interesting. A good cafe and in the summer the garden is a great spot to sit back and watch the world go by.

Victoria B

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.

LV
Tastemaker

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
Tastemaker

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
Tastemaker

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

Tom Bruce
Tastemaker

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. 

CharlotteDalila

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!)

Eesh

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
Spammer

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

Olivia

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.

caroline

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.

miha

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) ;-)

Emma

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.

Chiara

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!

PS

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

Alan

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

Geraldine

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.

vic

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!