Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of art and design, with a permanent collection of over 4 million objects as well as touring collection regularly appearing. The museum, named after Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert – who had perhaps the happiest royal marriage in British history – was first opened in 1852. Since its inception, it has grown to a vast size and is spread over half a square kilometer.

The artifacts included over this vast spread of the museum are mainly decorative in nature. They include glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewelry – some of which are private items owned by members of the royal family – furniture, prints, drawings, photographs and ceramics. The areas of the museum are divided into either genre of work shown – such as all the fashion, many of it centuries old, is grouped together – or by the specific period in history in which the artifacts are from. A particular favorite for many visitors is the Medieval section, which contains many artifacts from the period that are rarely seen elsewhere.

Victoria & Albert MuseumThere are also departments dedicated to items from around the world. There is a large Asian department, which includes arts from China, Japan and Korea as well as the Islamic world. A large section of the Victoria and Albert Museum is dedicated to post classical sculpture, with the largest collection of artwork from the Italian Renaissance outside of Italy itself.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is located within an area that boasts many other museums, including the National History Museum and the Science Museum. It is officially on Cromwell Gardens in South Kensington, but is not far from the famous Exhibition Row that is so well known for its museums. In 2001, the museum embarked on a renovation project which is designed to update the displays, and is estimated to be costing a total of over L150 million. The work is ongoing and the museum rarely closes for work to be done, much of it being done outside of opening hours.

Along with the other great museums located in the area and on the nearby Exhibition Row, entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum is free and has been since 2001. However, many tourists are unaware of the fact and often fall victim to street sellers purveying ‘discount’ tickets which are then found to be useless.  It is extremely unlikely that a charge will ever be reintroduced, so be mindful if visiting and avoid sellers offering cheap tickets – the cheapest ticket is an official one, costing nothing!

The nearest London Underground station for the Victoria and Albert Museum is South Kensington, which appears on the District, Piccadilly and Circus Lines. The Gothic architecture and mount above the museum is visible from the station, and requires around a ten minute walk to reach – signposts and guides are also provided, and maps of all of Exhibition Row and its surrounding museums are available for a small fee.