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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Food: Bigger than the Plate review
From the stylised pastel posters for the V&A’s latest show, you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole exhibition’s designed to be some selfie-obsessed millennial’s wet dream. A show built for Instagram. But then you see the first exhibit – a toilet...Until Sunday November 17 2019
Mary Quant review
Mary Quant wanted women to have fun. From underwear they could breathe in to fabrics that didn’t disintegrate in one wash and mascara that wouldn’t give them panda-eye, Quant’s namesake brand allowed its customers to look hot without really trying. Ergo:...Until Sunday February 16 2020
Things to do
Pick of the Litter
Can’t get enough of cute critters? Head after-hours to the V&A for this late exploring animal/human relations. Find out about animal-dating apps and digital pets and watch cat videos and animal-themed dance. Did we mention the mini-pig therapy session?...Late openings Friday July 26 2019 Free
Things to do
Honey & Co: The Food Talks LIVE at the V&A
Join Honey & Co founders Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer for a special 2-part live podcast recording at the V&A Museum. They'll be talking and celebrating all things food, but focusing on the journey of the food cycle. From composting to farming and...TV, radio and podcast recordings Monday July 29 2019
Tim Walker: Wonderful Things
When Tim Walker took over Somerset House with his 'Story Teller' exhibition in 2012, the gallery was filled with, among other things, a 10ft tall baby doll and an orchestra of oversized bugs. Seven years later and the photographer, a long-time contributor...Saturday September 7 2019 - Sunday March 8 2020
In 1865, the UK parliament passed The Red Flag Act, a law insisting all motorised vehicles travelled at a maximum of 2mph in the city (think: London at rush hour) or 4mph in the countryside and warned pedestrians of their approach with a man walking in...Saturday October 5 2019 - Sunday April 19 2020
Average User Rating
4.8 / 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.
An incredible exhibition and free to get in to. Do it. It is a fab museum and the architecture is amazing.
One of my favourite musuems in London.
You can spend all day here. Looking all the different exhibition with items from around the world.
It's mostly free. You only pay for the special exhibitions.
The cafe is adorable and perfect for lunch too.
I was surprise my first time in this museum. Plenty of stuff to see. Sometime with temporary exhibition but normally enough to see with that ones that are permanent. Food also good in the building
Gorgeous building in itself, always have very interesting exhibitions, great location near the restaurants and bars of South Kensington and right near South Kensington tube station and lots of buses.
Never thought I would own an album on the V&A record label
Having visited "So You Say You Want A Revolution ?" I just had to take some of it home with me
It's on till February 2017 and its a MUST
The V&A continues to inform and entertain.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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