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As if the V&A wasn’t enough of a treasure trove already, the master curators have just opened a new suite of renovated galleries that tell the complex tale of the rise of global powers and markets. Head downstairs to your left – just after you’ve had your baggage checked – and enter the permanent exhibition, which houses a thousand or so fascinating items from the collection. You’ll find everything from pocket watches to entire decorative schemes for rooms, all exploring how modern ideas of comfort, privacy and fashion developed. The V&A is keen to stress that its new galleries take a broad view of Europe, looking at the continent in the context of the Asian, African and American cultures it was inspired by and exploited. But there are definite limits – you won’t find many homegrown objects on show, for instance (they are upstairs in the British Galleries). The whole collection really boils down to a single story – the rise of France over Italy as the main arbiter of European taste. But you could still spend all day in here (and all night, too, if they let you kip in the beds). Here’s a selection of the best bits.