It has become not only a legendary museum but a legendary institution. Victoria and Albert Museum is as much a scholar’s delight as the tourists. I thought it deserved something of a précis description and discussion. So, yeah, there you go!
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It is legendary alright. It is, after all, the world’s largest and leading museum of art and design, and it is quite old too, spanning three centuries! Its collection displays an impressive number of artistic objects, close to 2,5 million. The best of it all? It’s free.
Well, it comes to no surprise, since all museums in the UK have been free for nearly 17 years but lets us further explore this impressive and legendary museum!
The Victoria and Albert Museum actually started as a Museum of Manufactures almost two centuries ago, back in 1852. Despite spanning half of the 19th century, the whole 20th century, and it’s still going strong in this infant century we live in. It is a testament to how relevant museums are not only for art enthusiasts and philanthropists but also to our culture. It is also one of the West’s prime examples of evolution and keeping up with the times; V&A didn’t conform to the notion that has a museum with a rich and old history, it should refrain from the more modern realms of artistic concoction.
In fact, V&A’s collection spans 5 millennia of human creative production, from writing, sculpting, painting, to design, and even historic artifacts that remind us how resilient, ingenious, and visionary humankind is. It is also one of the finest examples of British Victorian and modern architecture and design in the whole of the UK.
According to the museum’s own website, its first director, Henry Cole, followed the ideal that Victoria and Albert should be open to everyone, that it should be a “schoolroom for everyone”. In fact, a prime directive of the institution was to further “improve the standards of British industry by educating designers, manufacturers and consumers in art and science“. In line with this objective, further enhancing and enforcing the museum’s collection was paramount so that it could meet its goal:
“The story of the design and construction of the V&A’s buildings, and of the personalities who guided this process, is one of persistent vision and ingenuity, amid the changing artistic, political and economic circumstances of the last 150 years”
These days, V&A one of the world’s leading museum of not only art but also design, if not THE leading museum. Its halls and archives sport more than 2 million objects and artifacts, including some of Britain’s most prized national collections, and, as it’s mission clearly specified, is one of the world’s nexus for the study of architecture, textiles, sculpture, jewellery, book arts, theatre, photography and ceramics study, amongst many, many others. Yeah, this is a veritable corner of man-made beauty. It even houses the largest Italian Renaissance collection in the world, outside of Italy that is.
So yes, it is known all over the globe, some of you reading this might have been there as well, but I think it deserves a spot in our blog nonetheless. Nowadays people tend to turn their attention to those flashy 21th-century museums, which most of the time are only flashy on the outside, but you can still smell faint hints of po-mo in there. The Victoria and Albert Museum is the safest bet you can make if you’re ever by London!