* Ranked 6th nationally (2015)
* Ranked 11th globally (2013)
PUBLIC TRANSIT ACCESS
In 2000, an 11-metre high, blown glass chandelier by Dale
Chihuly was installed as a focal point in the rotunda at the V&A's
The VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM (often abbreviated as the V&A),
London, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design,
housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was
founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert .
The V&A is located in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of
Kensington and Chelsea , in an area that has become known as
Albertopolis " because of its association with Prince Albert, the
Albert Memorial and the major cultural institutions with which he was
associated. These include the Natural History Museum , the Science
Museum and the
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall . The museum is a non-departmental
public body sponsored by the
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport .
Like other national British museums, entrance to the museum has been
free since 2001 .
The V&A covers 12.5 acres (5.1 ha) and 145 galleries. Its collection
spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from
the cultures of Europe , North America , Asia and North Africa . The
holdings of ceramics , glass, textiles, costumes , silver, ironwork ,
jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and
printmaking , drawings and photographs are among the largest and most
comprehensive in the world.
The museum owns the world's largest collection of post-classical
sculpture, with the holdings of
Italian Renaissance items being the
largest outside Italy. The departments of Asia include art from South
Asia, China, Japan, Korea and the
Islamic world . The East Asian
collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in
ceramics and metalwork , while the Islamic collection is amongst the
largest in the Western world. Overall, it is one of the largest
museums in the world.
Since 2001, the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation
programme, which has seen a major overhaul of the departments,
including the introduction of newer galleries, gardens, shops and
New 17th- and 18th-century European galleries were opened on 9
December 2015. These restored the original
Aston Webb interiors and
host the European collections 1600–1815.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Foundation
* 1.2 1900–1950
* 1.3 Since 1950
* 2 Partnerships
* 3 Architecture of the museum
* 3.1 Victorian period
* 3.2 Edwardian period
* 3.3 Post-war period
* 3.4 Recent years
* 3.5 Garden
* 4 Collections
* 4.1 Architecture
* 4.2 Asia
* 4.2.2 South Asia
* 4.2.3 East Asia
* 4.3 Books
* 4.4 British galleries
* 4.5 Cast courts
* 4.6 Ceramics and glass
* 4.7 Contemporary
* 4.8 Prints and drawings
* 4.9 Fashion
* 4.10 Furniture
* 4.11 Jewellery
* 4.13 Musical instruments
* 4.14 Paintings (and miniatures)
* 4.15 Photography
* 4.16 Sculpture
* 4.17 Textiles
* 4.18 Theatre and performance
* 5 Departments
* 5.1 Education
* 5.1.1 V">
Henry Cole , the museum's first director
Frieze detail from internal courtyard showing Queen Victoria in front
of the 1851 Great Exhibition.
The V initially it was known as the MUSEUM OF MANUFACTURES, first
opening in May 1852 at
Marlborough House , but by September had been
Somerset House . At this stage the collections covered
both applied art and science. Several of the exhibits from the
Exhibition were purchased to form the nucleus of the collection. By
February 1854 discussions were underway to transfer the museum to the
current site and it was renamed SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM. In 1855 the
Gottfried Semper , at the request of Cole, produced a
design for the museum, but it was rejected by the
Board of Trade as
too expensive. The site was occupied by Brompton Park House; this was
extended including the first refreshment rooms opened in 1857, the
museum being the first in the world to provide such a facility.
The official opening by Queen Victoria was on 22 June 1857. In the
following year, late night openings were introduced, made possible by
the use of gas lighting. This was to enable in the words of Cole "to
ascertain practically what hours are most convenient to the working
classes" —this was linked to the use of the collections of both
applied art and science as educational resources to help boost
productive industry. In these early years the practical use of the
collection was very much emphasised as opposed to that of "High Art"
National Gallery and scholarship at the
British Museum .
George Wallis (1811–1891), the first Keeper of Fine Art Collection,
passionately promoted the idea of wide art education through the
museum collections. This led to the transfer to the museum of the
School of Design that had been founded in 1837 at Somerset House;
after the transfer it was referred to as the Art School or Art
Training School, later to become the
Royal College of Art
Royal College of Art which
finally achieved full independence in 1949. From the 1860s to the
1880s the scientific collections had been moved from the main museum
site to various improvised galleries to the west of
Exhibition Road .
In 1893 the "Science Museum" had effectively come into existence when
a separate director was appointed.
The laying of the foundation stone of the
Aston Webb building (to the
left of the main entrance) on 17 May 1899 was the last official
public appearance by Queen Victoria. It was during this ceremony that
the change of name from the South Kensington Museum to the VICTORIA
AND ALBERT MUSEUM was made public. Queen Victoria's address during the
ceremony, as recorded in the
London Gazette , ended: "I trust that it
will remain for ages a Monument of discerning Liberality and a Source
of Refinement and Progress."
The exhibition which the museum organised to celebrate the centennial
of the 1899 renaming, "A Grand Design", first toured in North America
from 1997 (
Baltimore Museum of Art ,
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston ,
Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum , Toronto,
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ), returning to
London in 1999. To
accompany and support the exhibition, the museum published a book,
Grand Design, which it has made available for reading online on its
The opening ceremony for the
Aston Webb building by King Edward VII
and Queen Alexandra took place on 26 June 1909. In 1914 the
construction commenced of the Science Museum , signalling the final
split of the science and art collections.
In 1939 on the outbreak of World War II, most of the collection was
sent to a quarry in
Wiltshire , to
Montacute House in Somerset, or to
a tunnel near
Aldwych tube station
Aldwych tube station , with larger items remaining in
situ, sand-bagged and bricked in. Between 1941 and 1944 some
galleries were used as a school for children evacuated from Gibraltar
. The South Court became a canteen, first for the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force and
later for Bomb Damage Repair Squads.
Before the return of the collections after the war, the Britain Can
Make It exhibition was held between September and November 1946,
attracting nearly a million and a half visitors. This was organised
Council of Industrial Design established by the British
government in 1944 "to promote by all practicable means the
improvement of design in the products of British industry". The
success of this exhibition led to the planning of the Festival of
Britain (1951). By 1948 most of the collections had been returned to
In July 1973, as part of its outreach programme to young people, the
V&A became the first museum in Britain to present a rock concert. The
V&A presented a combined concert/lecture by British progressive
folk-rock band Gryphon , who explored the lineage of mediaeval music
and instrumentation and related how those contributed to contemporary
music 500 years later. This innovative approach to bringing young
people to museums was a hallmark of the directorship of
Roy Strong and
was subsequently emulated by some other British museums.
In the 1980s, Sir
Roy Strong renamed the museum as "The Victoria and
Albert Museum, the National Museum of Art and Design". Strong's
Elizabeth Esteve-Coll oversaw a turbulent period for the
institution in which the museum's curatorial departments were
re-structured, leading to public criticism from some staff.
Esteve-Coll's attempts to make the V it should take about ten years to
complete the work. A new entrance, courtyard and gallery designed by
Amanda Levete 's
AL A was scheduled for opening in 2017.
The museum also runs the Museum of Childhood at
Bethnal Green and
used to run the
Theatre Museum in
Covent Garden and
Apsley House . The
Theatre Museum is now closed and the V"> V&A Dundee under
construction in April 2017.
The V&A has no museums or galleries of its own outside London.
Instead it works with a small number of partner organisations in
Sheffield , Dundee and
Blackpool to provide a regional presence.
The V&A is in discussion with the
University of Dundee , University
of Abertay ,
Dundee City Council and the
Scottish Government with a
view to opening a new £43 million gallery in Dundee that would use
the V&A brand although it would be funded through and operated
independently. As of 2015, with costs estimated at £76 million, it
is the most expensive gallery project ever undertaken in Scotland.
The V&A DUNDEE will be on the city's waterfront and is intended to
focus on fashion, architecture, product design, graphic arts and
photography. It is planned that it could open within five years.
Dundee City Council is expected to pay a major part of the running
costs. The V&A is not contributing financially, but will be providing
expertise, loans and exhibitions.
Plans for a new gallery in
Blackpool are also under consideration.
This follows earlier plans to move the theatre collection to a new
£60m museum in Blackpool, which failed due to lack of funding. The
V&A exhibits twice a year at the
Millennium Galleries in partnership
The V"> The Ceramic Staircase, designed by Frank Moody
The Victorian parts of the building have a complex history, with
piecemeal additions by different architects. Founded in May 1852, it
was not until 1857 that the museum moved to the present site. This
London was known as Brompton but had been renamed South
Kensington. The land was occupied by Brompton Park House , which was
extended, most notably by the "Brompton Boilers", which were starkly
utilitarian iron galleries with a temporary look and were later
dismantled and used to build the V also built in 1862, this houses
the offices and board room etc. and is not open to the public.
The mosaic in the pediment of the North Façade, designed by Godfrey
An ambitious scheme of decoration was developed for these new areas:
a series of mosaic figures depicting famous European artists of the
Renaissance period. These have now been removed to other
areas of the museum. Also started were a series of frescoes by Lord
Leighton : Industrial Arts as Applied to War 1878–1880 and
Industrial Arts Applied to Peace, which was started but never
finished. To the east of this were additional galleries, the
decoration of which was the work of another designer Owen Jones ;
these were the Oriental Courts (covering India, China and Japan),
completed in 1863. None of this decoration survives. Part of these
galleries became the new galleries covering the 19th century, opened
in December 2006. The last work by Fowke was the design for the range
of buildings on the north and west sides of the garden. This includes
the refreshment rooms, reinstated as the Museum Café in 2006, with
the silver gallery above (at the time the ceramics gallery); the top
floor has a splendid lecture theatre, although this is seldom open to
the general public. The ceramic staircase in the northwest corner of
this range of buildings was designed by F. W. Moody and has
architectural details of moulded and coloured pottery. All the work on
the north range was designed and built in 1864–69. The style adopted
for this part of the museum was
Italian Renaissance ; much use was
made of terracotta , brick and mosaic. This north façade was intended
as the main entrance to the museum, with its bronze doors, designed by
James Gamble and Reuben Townroe, having six panels, depicting Humphry
Isaac Newton (astronomy);
James Watt (mechanics);
Michelangelo (sculpture); and Titian
(painting); The panels thus represent the range of the museum's
Godfrey Sykes also designed the terracotta
embellishments and the mosaic in the pediment of the North Façade
commemorating the Great Exhibition, the profits from which helped to
fund the museum. This is flanked by terracotta statue groups by
Percival Ball . This building replaced Brompton Park House, which
could then be demolished to make way for the south range.
Dorchester House fireplace, by Alfred Stevens, the Centre Refreshment
The interiors of the three refreshment rooms were assigned to
different designers. The Green Dining Room (1866–68) was the work of
Philip Webb and
William Morris , and displays
The lower part of the walls are panelled in wood with a band of
paintings depicting fruit and the occasional figure, with moulded
plaster foliage on the main part of the wall and a plaster frieze
around the decorated ceiling and stained-glass windows by Edward
Burne-Jones . The Centre Refreshment Room (1865–77) was designed in
Renaissance style by James Gamble. The walls and even the Ionic
columns in this room are covered in decorative and moulded ceramic
tile, the ceiling consists of elaborate designs on enamelled metal
sheets and matching stained-glass windows, and the marble fireplace
was designed and sculpted by Alfred Stevens and was removed from
Dorchester House prior to that building's demolition in 1929. The
Grill Room (1876–81) was designed by Sir
Edward Poynter ; the lower
part of its walls consist of blue and white tiles with various figures
and foliage enclosed by wood panelling, while above there are large
tiled scenes with figures depicting the four seasons and the twelve
months, painted by ladies from the Art School then based in the
museum. The windows are also stained glass; there is an elaborate
cast-iron grill still in place.
With the death of Captain
Francis Fowke of the Royal Engineers, the
next architect to work at the museum was Colonel (later Major General)
Henry Young Darracott Scott , also of the Royal Engineers. He
designed to the north west of the garden the five-storey School for
Naval Architects (also known as the science schools), now the Henry
Cole Wing, in 1867–72. Scott's assistant J. W. Wild designed the
impressive staircase that rises the full height of the building. Made
from Cadeby stone, the steps are 7 feet (2.1 m) in length, while the
balustrades and columns are Portland stone. It is now used to jointly
house the prints and architectural drawings of the V"> Details of
the main entrance
Continuing the style of the earlier buildings, various designers were
responsible for the decoration. The terracotta embellishments were
again the work of Godfrey Sykes, although sgraffito was used to
decorate the east side of the building designed by F. W. Moody. A
final embellishment was the wrought iron gates made as late as 1885
designed by Starkie Gardner. These lead to a passage through the
building. Scott also designed the two Cast Courts (1870–73) to the
southeast of the garden (the site of the "Brompton Boilers"); these
vast spaces have ceilings 70 feet (21 m) in height to accommodate the
plaster casts of parts of famous buildings, including Trajan\'s Column
(in two separate pieces). The final part of the museum designed by
Scott was the Art Library and what is now the sculpture gallery on the
south side of the garden, built in 1877–83. The exterior mosaic
panels in the parapet were designed by Reuben Townroe, who also
designed the plaster work in the library. Sir John Taylor designed
the book shelves and cases. This was the first part of the museum to
have electric lighting. This completed the northern half of the site,
creating a quadrangle with the garden at its centre, but left the
museum without a proper façade. In 1890 the government launched a
competition to design new buildings for the museum, with architect
Alfred Waterhouse as one of the judges; this would give the museum a
new imposing front entrance.
The main façade, built from red brick and
Portland stone , stretches
720 feet (220 m) along Cromwell Gardens and was designed by Aston Webb
after winning a competition in 1891 to extend the museum. Construction
took place between 1899 and 1909. Stylistically it is a strange
hybrid: although much of the detail belongs to the
Renaissance , there
are medieval influences at work. The main entrance, consisting of a
series of shallow arches supported by slender columns and niches with
twin doors separated by pier, is Romanesque in form but Classical in
detail. Likewise the tower above the main entrance has an open work
crown surmounted by a statue of fame, a feature of late Gothic
architecture and a feature common in Scotland, but the detail is
Classical. The main windows to the galleries are also mullioned and
transomed, again a Gothic feature; the top row of windows are
interspersed with statues of many of the British artists whose work is
displayed in the museum.
Prince Albert appears within the main arch above the twin entrances,
and Queen Victoria above the frame around the arches and entrance,
Alfred Drury . These façades surround four levels of
galleries. Other areas designed by Webb include the Entrance Hall and
Rotunda, the East and West Halls, the areas occupied by the shop and
Asian Galleries, and the
Costume Gallery. The interior makes much use
of marble in the entrance hall and flanking staircases, although the
galleries as originally designed were white with restrained classical
detail and mouldings, very much in contrast to the elaborate
decoration of the Victorian galleries, although much of this
decoration was removed in the early 20th century.
North side of Garden, by Captain Francis Fowke, Royal Engineers
Western Cast Court, by
Henry Young Darracott Scott 1870–73
The Art Library, by Scott and other designers 1877–83
Main Entrance, by
Aston Webb 1899–1909
Bomb damage on the exhibition road facade
The Museum survived the Second World War with only minor bomb damage.
The worst loss was the Victorian stained glass on the Ceramics
Staircase, which was blown in when bombs fell nearby; pockmarks still
visible on the façade of the museum were caused by fragments from the
In the immediate post-war years there was little money available for
other than essential repairs. The 1950s and early 1960s saw little in
the way of building work; the first major work was the creation of new
storage space for books in the Art Library in 1966 and 1967. This
involved flooring over Aston Webb's main hall to form the book stacks,
with a new medieval gallery on the ground floor (now the shop, opened
in 2006). Then the lower ground-floor galleries in the south-west part
of the museum were redesigned, opening in 1978 to form the new
galleries covering Continental art 1600–1800 (late Renaissance,
Rococo and neo-Classical). In 1974 the museum had
acquired what is now the
Henry Cole wing from the Royal College of
Science . To adapt the building as galleries, all the Victorian
interiors except for the staircase were recast during the remodelling.
To link this to the rest of the museum, a new entrance building was
constructed on the site of the former boiler house, the intended site
of the Spiral , between 1978 and 1982. This building is of concrete
and very functional, the only embellishment being the iron gates by
Christopher Hay and Douglas Coyne of the Royal College of Art. These
are set in the columned screen wall designed by
Aston Webb that forms
A few galleries were redesigned in the 1990s including the Indian,
Japanese, Chinese, iron work, the main glass galleries, and the main
silverware gallery, which was further enhanced in 2002 when some of
the Victorian decoration was recreated. This included two of the ten
columns having their ceramic decoration replaced and the elaborate
painted designs restored on the ceiling. As part of the 2006
renovation the mosaic floors in the sculpture gallery were
restored—most of the Victorian floors were covered in linoleum after
the Second World War. After the success of the British Galleries,
opened in 2001, it was decided to embark on a major redesign of all
the galleries in the museum; this is known as "FuturePlan", and was
created in consultation with the exhibition designers and
masterplanners Metaphor . The plan is expected to take about ten years
and was started in 2002. To date several galleries have been
redesigned, notably, in 2002: the main Silver Gallery, Contemporary;
in 2003: Photography, the main entrance, The Painting Galleries; in
2004: the tunnel to the subway leading to South Kensington tube
station , new signage throughout the museum, architecture, V in 2005:
portrait miniatures, prints and drawings, displays in Room 117, the
garden, sacred silver and stained glass; in 2006: Central Hall Shop,
Islamic Middle East, the new café, and sculpture galleries. Several
designers and architects have been involved in this work. Eva
Jiřičná designed the enhancements to the main entrance and rotunda,
the new shop, the tunnel and the sculpture galleries. Gareth Hoskins
was responsible for contemporary and architecture, Softroom, Islamic
Middle East and the Members' Room, McInnes Usher McKnight Architects
(MUMA) were responsible for the new Cafe and designed the new Medieval
Renaissance galleries which opened in 2009.
In September 2004, the museum's board of trustees voted to abandon a
proposed extension, designed by
Daniel Libeskind with
Cecil Balmond ,
after failing to receive funding from the
Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund .
In 2011 the V"> The
John Madejski Garden, opened in 2005
The central garden was redesigned by Kim Wilkie and opened as the
John Madejski Garden on 5 July 2005. The design is a subtle blend of
the traditional and modern: the layout is formal; there is an
elliptical water feature lined in stone with steps around the edge
which may be drained to use the area for receptions, gatherings or
exhibition purposes. This is in front of the bronze doors leading to
the refreshment rooms. A central path flanked by lawns leads to the
sculpture gallery. The north, east and west sides have herbaceous
borders along the museum walls with paths in front which continues
along the south façade. In the two corners by the north façade there
is planted an
American Sweetgum tree. The southern, eastern and
western edges of the lawns have glass planters which contain orange
and lemon trees in summer, which are replaced by bay trees in winter.
At night both the planters and water feature may be illuminated, and
the surrounding façades lit to reveal details normally in shadow.
Especially noticeable are the mosaics in the loggia of the north
façade. In summer a café is set up in the south west corner. The
garden is also used for temporary exhibits of sculpture; for example,
a sculpture by
Jeff Koons was shown in 2006. It has also played host
to the museum's annual contemporary design showcase, the V&A Village
Fete , since 2005.
The Victoria 2) Furniture, Textiles and Fashion; 3) Sculpture,
Metalwork, Ceramics and, 4) Word "> The museum curators care for the
objects in the collection and provide access to objects that are not
currently on display to the public and scholars.
The collection departments are further divided into sixteen display
areas, whose combined collection numbers over 6.5 million objects, not
all items are displayed or stored at the V&A. There is a repository at
Blythe House , West Kensington, as well as annexe institutions managed
by the V&A, also the Museum lends exhibits to other institutions. The
following lists each of the collections on display and the number of
objects within the collection.
NUMBER OF ITEMS
Architecture (annex of the RIBA)
British Galleries (cross department display)
Childhood (annex of the V&A)
Contemporary (cross department function)
Fashion & Jewellery
Paintings & Drawings
Prints & Books
Theatre (includes V&A Theatre Collections Reading Room, an annexe
of the former
Theatre Museum )
The museum has 145 galleries, but given the vast extent of the
collections only a small percentage is ever on display. Many
acquisitions have been made possible only with the assistance of the
National Art Collections Fund .
In 2004, the V&A alongside Royal Institute of British Architects
opened the first permanent gallery in the UK covering the history of
architecture with displays using models, photographs, elements from
buildings and original drawings. With the opening of the new gallery,
the RIBA Drawings and Archives Collection has been transferred to the
museum, joining the already extensive collection held by the V">
Tilework Chimneypiece, Turkey, probably Istanbul, dated 1731
The V&As collection of Art from Asia numbers more than 160,000
objects, one of the largest in existence. It has one of the world's
most comprehensive and important collections of
Chinese art whilst the
collection of South Asian Art is the most important in the West. The
museums coverage includes items from South and South East Asia,
Himalayan Kingdoms, China, the Far East and the Islamic world.
Wine cup of Shah Jahan
The Museum's collections of South and South-East Asian art are the
most comprehensive and important in the West comprising nearly 60,000
objects, including about 10,000 textiles and 6000 paintings, the
range of the collection is immense. The
Jawaharlal Nehru gallery of
Indian art , opened in 1991, contains art from about 500 BC to the
19th century. There is an extensive collection of sculpture, mainly of
a religious nature,
Jain . The gallery is richly
endowed with art of the
Mughal Empire and the Marathas , including
fine portraits of the emperors and other paintings and drawings, jade
wine cups and gold spoons inset with emeralds, diamonds and rubies,
also from this period are parts of buildings such as a jaali and
pillars. India was a large producer of textiles, from dyed cotton
chintz , muslin to rich embroidery work using gold and silver thread,
coloured sequins and beads is displayed, as are carpets from
Lahore . Examples of clothing are also displayed.
In 1879–80 the collections of the British East India Company's
India Museum were given to the V&A and the British Museum. Most of the
items were plundered during the
Indian Rebellion of 1857
Indian Rebellion of 1857 by the
British forces and taken from India. Some of the examples are 'Tipu\'s
Tiger ', an automaton and mechanical organ made in
Mysore around 1795.
It represents a tiger mauling a soldier or officer of the British East
India Company . It is named after the ruler of
Mysore who commissioned
Tipu Sultan .
The wine cup of Shah Jahan was an item that was plundered during the
Indian Rebellion of 1857
Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the fall of the Mughal empire to the
invading British forces. It was originally a Mughal property and kept
Red Fort in Delhi. So far there have been no moves by the
museum to catalogue and restitute all the stolen items back to India.
The Far Eastern collections include more than 70,000 works of art
from the countries of East Asia: China, Japan and Korea. The T. T.
Tsui Gallery of
Chinese art opened in 1991, displaying a
representative collection of the V items on show include betel-nut
cutters, ivory combs and bronze palanquin hooks.
Bodhisattva Maitreya, Gandhara, Pakistan, Kusana Dynasty, 2nd-4th
Parshvanatha , India, 7th Century
Rishabhanatha dated 9th century, India
Rock crystal ewer
Rock crystal ewer
Goddess Ambika , Odisha, India, 12th Century
Japanese Incense Burner, Signed 'Dai Nippon, Koko Sei', Patinated
bronze inlaid with gilt bronze and other soft metal alloys c.1877
Betel container, 19th century, Filigree work in gold on a gold
ground, outlined with bands of rubies and imitation emeralds,
The museum houses the National Art Library, a public library
containing over 750,000 books, photographs, drawings, paintings, and
prints. It is one of the world's largest libraries dedicated to the
study of fine and decorative arts. The library covers all areas and
periods of the museum's collections with special collections covering
illuminated manuscripts , rare books and artists' letters and
The Library consists of three large public rooms, with around a
hundred individual study desks. These are the West Room, Centre Room
and Reading Room. The centre room contains 'special collection
One of the great treasures in the library is the Codex Forster, some
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci 's note books. The Codex consists of three
parchment-bound manuscripts, Forster I, Forster II, and Forster III,
quite small in size, dated between 1490 and 1505. Their contents
include a large collection of sketches and references to the
equestrian sculpture commissioned by the Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza
to commemorate his father
Francesco Sforza . These were bequeathed
with over 18,000 books to the museum in 1876 by John Forster . The
Alexander Dyce was another benefactor of the library,
leaving over 14,000 books to the museum in 1869. Amongst the books he
collected are early editions in Greek and Latin of the poets and
Virgil . More recent authors include Giovanni Boccaccio
Dante , Racine ,
Writers whose papers are in the library are as diverse as Charles
Beatrix Potter . Illuminated manuscripts in the library
dating from the 12th to 16th centuries include: the Eadwine
Canterbury ; Pocket
Book of Hours ,
Missal from the Royal
Abbey of Saint Denis , Paris; the
Simon Marmion Book of Hours, Bruges
; 1524 Charter illuminated by
Lucas Horenbout , London; the Armagnac
manuscript of the trial and rehabilitation of
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc ,
also the Victorian period is represented by William Morris.
The National Art Library (also called Word and Image Department) at
Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum collection catalogue used to be kept in
different formats including printed exhibit catalogues, and card
catalogues. A computer system called MODES cataloguing system was used
from the 1980s to the 1990s, but those electronic files were not
available to the library users. All of the archival material at the
National Art Library is using Encoded Archival Description (EAD). The
Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum has a computer system but most of the items
in the collection, unless those were newly accessioned into the
collection, probably do not show up in the computer system. There is a
feature on the
Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum web-site called "Search the
Collections," but not everything is listed there.
The National Art Library also includes a collection of comics and
comic art. Notable parts of the collection include the Krazy Kat
Arkive, comprising 4,200 comics, and the Rakoff Collection, comprising
17,000 items collected by writer and editor Ian Rakoff.
The Victoria and Albert Museum's Word and Image Department was under
the same pressure being felt in archives around the world, to digitise
their collection. A large scale digitisation project began in 2007 in
that department. That project was entitled the Factory Project to
reference Andy Warhol and to create a factory to completely digitise
the collection. The first step of the Factory Project was to take
photographs using digital cameras. The Word and Image Department had a
collection of old photos but they were in black and white and in
variant conditions, so new photos were shot. Those new photographs
will be accessible to researchers to the Victoria and Albert Museum
web-site. 15,000 images were taken during the first year of the
Factory Project, including drawings, watercolors, computer-generated
art, photographs, posters, and woodcuts. The second step of the
Factory Project is to catalogue everything. The third step of the
Factory Project is to audit the collection. All of those items which
were photographed and catalogued, must be audited to make sure
everything listed as being in the collection was physically found
during the creation of the Factory Project. The fourth goal of the
Factory Project is conservation, which means performing some basic
preventable procedures to those items in the department. There is a
"Search the Collections" feature on the Victoria and Albert web-site.
The main impetus behind the large-scale digitisation project called
the Factory Project was to list more items in the collections in those
BLW Manuscript Book of Hours, about 1480-90
These fifteen galleries—which opened in November 2001—contain
around 4,000 items. The displays in these galleries are based around
three major themes: "Style", "Who Led Taste" and "What Was New". The
period covered is 1500 to 1900, with the galleries divided into three
* Tudor and Stuart Britain, 1500–1714, covering the Renaissance,
Elizabethan , Jacobean , Restoration and
* Georgian Britain, 1714–1837, covering
Neoclassicism , the Regency , the influence of Chinese ,
Indian and Egyptian styles, and the early
* Victorian Britain, 1837–1901, covering the later phases of the
Gothic Revival, French influences, Classical and
Aestheticism , Japanese style , the continuing influence of China,
India, and the Islamic world, the
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts movement and the
Not only the work of British artists and craftspeople is on display,
but also work produced by European artists that was purchased or
commissioned by British patrons, as well as imports from Asia,
including porcelain, cloth and wallpaper. Designers and artists whose
work is on display in the galleries include
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Gian Lorenzo Bernini ,
Grinling Gibbons ,
Daniel Marot ,
Louis Laguerre ,
Antonio Verrio ,
James Thornhill , William Kent, Robert Adam, Josiah Wedgwood,
Matthew Boulton, Canova,
Thomas Chippendale , Pugin, William Morris.
Patrons who have influenced taste are also represented by works of art
from their collections, these include:
Horace Walpole (a major
influence on the Gothic Revival),
William Thomas Beckford
William Thomas Beckford and Thomas
The galleries showcase a number of complete and partial
reconstructions of period rooms, from demolished buildings, including:
* The parlour from 2 Henrietta Street, London, dated 1727–28,
Norfolk House Music Room, St James Square, London, dated
1756, designed by
Matthew Brettingham and
Giovanni Battista Borra
* A section of a wall from the Glass Drawing Room of Northumberland
House , dated 1773–75, designed by
Some of the more notable works displayed in the galleries include:
* Pietro Torrigiani's coloured terracotta bust of Henry VII , dated
* Henry VIII\'s writing desk , dated 1525, made from walnut and oak,
lined with leather and painted and gilded with the king's coat of arms
* A spinet dated 1570–1580, made for Elizabeth I
Great Bed of Ware , dated 1590–1600, a large, elaborately
carved four-poster bed with marquetry headboard
Gianlorenzo Bernini 's bust of Thomas Baker , from the 1630s
* 17th-century tapestries from the Sheldon and
* The wood relief of The Stoning of St Stephen, dated c1670, by
* The Macclesfield Wine Set, dated 1719–1720, made by Anthony
Nelme, the only complete set known to survive.
* The life-size sculpture of George Frederick Handel , dated 1738,
* Furniture by
Thomas Chippendale and
* The sculpture of Bashaw , dated 1831–34, by Matthew Cotes Wyatt
* Aesthetic and Arts and carpets and interior textiles by William
The galleries also link design to wider trends in British culture.
For instance, design in the
Tudor period was influenced by the spread
of printed books and the work of European artists and craftsmen
employed in Britain. In the Stuart period, increasing trade,
especially with Asia, enabled wider access to luxuries like carpets,
lacquered furniture, silks and porcelain. In the Georgian age there
was increasing emphasis on entertainment and leisure. For example, the
increase in tea drinking led to the production of tea paraphernalia
such as china and caddies. European styles seen on the
Grand Tour also
influenced taste. As the
Industrial Revolution took hold, the growth
of mass production produced entrepreneurs such as
Josiah Wedgwood ,
Matthew Boulton and
Eleanor Coade . In the
Victorian era new
technology and machinery had a significant effect on manufacturing,
and for the first time since the reformation, the
Anglican and Roman
Catholic Churches had a major effect on art and design such as the
Gothic Revival. There is a large display on the Great Exhibition
which, among other things, led to the founding of the V">
Henry VIII's writing box
Howard Grace Cup
Great Bed of Ware , one of the largest beds of the world
Norfolk House Music Room
Wedgwood Portland Vase
Cast Courts (Victoria and Albert Museum)
One of the most dramatic parts of the museum is the Cast Courts in
the sculpture wing, comprising two large, skylighted rooms two storeys
high housing hundreds of plaster casts of sculptures, friezes and
tombs. One of these is dominated by a full-scale replica of Trajan\'s
Column , cut in half to fit under the ceiling. The other includes
reproductions of various works of
Italian Renaissance sculpture and
architecture, including a full-size replica of Michelangelo\'s
Replicas of two earlier Davids by
Donatello and Verrocchio , are also
included, although for conservation reasons the Verrocchio replica is
displayed in a glass case.
The two courts are divided by corridors on both storeys, and the
partitions that used to line the upper corridor (the Gilbert Bayes
sculpture gallery) were removed in 2004 to allow the courts to be
viewed from above.
Room 46b; Cast Court —Plaster Cast of "Porta Magna " of San
Petronio Basilica ,
Jacopo della Quercia
Jacopo della Quercia
Room 46a; Cast Court —Plaster Cast of the 'Pórtico da Gloria' in
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Cast Court —Plaster copy of Trajan\'s Column
Room 46b; Cast Court —Plaster Cast of
David and The Slave, by
CERAMICS AND GLASS
Part of the reserve collection of European ceramics, on display
on the top floor.
This is the largest and most comprehensive ceramics and glass
collection in the world, with over 80,000 objects from around the
world. Every populated continent is represented. Apart from the many
pieces in the Primary Galleries on the ground floor, much of the top
floor is devoted to galleries of ceramics of all periods covered,
which include display cases with a representative selection, but also
massed "visible storage" displays of the reserve collection.
Well represented in the collection is
Meissen porcelain , from the
first factory in Europe to discover the Chinese method of making
porcelain. Among the finest examples are the Meissen Vulture from 1731
Möllendorff Dinner Service , designed in 1762 by Frederick II
the Great. Ceramics from the
Manufacture nationale de Sèvres are
extensive, especially from the 18th and 19th centuries. The collection
of 18th-century British porcelain is the largest and finest in the
world. Examples from every factory are represented, the collections of
Chelsea porcelain and
Worcester porcelain being especially fine. All
the major 19th-century British factories are also represented. A major
boost to the collections was the Salting Bequest made in 1909, which
enriched the museum's stock of Chinese and
Japanese ceramics . This
bequest forms part of the finest collection of East Asian pottery and
porcelain in the world, including
Kakiemon ware. Another view of
the "visible storage"
Many famous potters, such as Josiah Wedgwood,
William De Morgan and
Bernard Leach as well as
Royal Doulton are represented in
the collection. There is an extensive collection of
in both Britain and Holland, which includes a circa 1695 flower
pyramid over a metre in height.
Bernard Palissy has several examples
of his work in the collection including dishes, jugs and candlesticks.
The largest objects in the collection are a series of elaborately
ornamented ceramic stoves from the 16th and 17th centuries, made in
Germany and Switzerland. There is an unrivalled collection of Italian
maiolica and lustreware from Spain. The collection of
from Turkey is the largest in the world.
The glass collection covers 4000 years of glass making, and has over
6000 items from Africa, Britain, Europe, America and Asia. The
earliest glassware on display comes from
Ancient Egypt and continues
through the Ancient Roman, Medieval,
Renaissance covering areas such
Venetian glass and
Bohemian glass and more recent periods,
Art Nouveau glass by
Louis Comfort Tiffany
Louis Comfort Tiffany and Émile Gallé
, the Art Deco style is represented by several examples by René
Lalique. There are many examples of crystal chandeliers both English,
displayed in the British galleries and foreign for example Venetian
(attributed to Giuseppe Briati) dated c1750 are in the collection. The
stained glass collection is possibly the finest in the world, covering
the medieval to modern periods, and covering Europe as well as
Britain. Several examples of English 16th-century heraldic glass is
displayed in the British Galleries. Many well-known designers of
stained glass are represented in the collection including, from the
Dante Gabriel Rossetti,
Edward Burne-Jones and William
Morris. There is also an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's work in the
collection. 20th-century designers include
Harry Clarke , John Piper ,
Patrick Reyntiens ,
Veronica Whall and Brian Clarke .
The main gallery was redesigned in 1994, the glass balustrade on the
staircase and mezzanine are the work of
Danny Lane , the gallery
covering contemporary glass opened in 2004 and the sacred silver and
stained-glass gallery in 2005. In this latter gallery stained glass is
displayed alongside silverware starting in the 12th century and
continuing to the present. Some of the most outstanding stained glass,
dated 1243–48 comes from the
Sainte-Chapelle , is displayed along
with other examples in the new Medieval ">
Maiolica dish with a childbirth scene,
Urbino , c. 1546
Delft , c. 1695
Porcelain figure of a goat, by J. J. Kaendler , Meissen , c. 1732
Jardinière (plant pot),
Vincennes porcelain , France; 1750–1753
Luck of Edenhall
Luck of Edenhall , glass beaker, Syria, 13th century
Stained glass panel, depicting Christ's resurrection, Germany, c.
These galleries are dedicated to temporary exhibits showcasing both
trends from recent decades and the latest in design and fashion.
PRINTS AND DRAWINGS
Prints and drawings from the over 750,000 items in the collection can
be seen on request at the print room , the "Prints and Drawings study
Room"; booking an appointment is necessary. The collection of
drawings includes over 10,000 British and 2,000 old master works,
including works by: Dürer ,
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione , Bernardo
Rembrandt , Antonio Verrio,
Paul Sandby , John Russell ,
Angelica Kauffman ,
John Flaxman ,
Hugh Douglas Hamilton
Hugh Douglas Hamilton , Thomas
William Kilburn ,
Thomas Girtin , Jean-Auguste-Dominique
David Wilkie , John Martin ,
Samuel Palmer , Sir Edwin Henry
Landseer , Lord
Frederic Leighton , Sir Samuel
Luke Fildes and Aubrey
Beardsley . Modern British artists represented in the collection
include: Paul Nash ,
Percy Wyndham Lewis ,
Eric Gill , Stanley Spencer
, John Piper,
Robert Priseman ,
Graham Sutherland ,
Lucian Freud and
David Hockney .
The print collection has more than 500,000 items, covering: posters,
greetings cards, book plates, as well as a comprehensive collection of
old master prints from the
Renaissance to the present, including works
William Hogarth ,
Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Giovanni Battista Piranesi , Canaletto
Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Karl Friedrich Schinkel ,
Henri Matisse and Sir William Nicholson .
The costume collection is the most comprehensive in Britain,
containing over 14,000 outfits plus accessories, mainly dating from
1600 to the present.
Costume sketches, design notebooks, and other
works on paper are typically held by the Word and Image department.
Because everyday clothing from previous eras has not generally
survived, the collection is dominated by fashionable clothes made for
special occasions. One of the first significant gifts of costume came
in 1913 when the V&A received the
Talbot Hughes collection containing
1,442 costumes and items as a gift from
Harrods following its display
at the nearby department store.
Some of the oldest items in the collection are medieval vestments ,
Opus Anglicanum . One of the most important items in the
collection is the wedding suit of
James II of England
James II of England , which is
displayed in the British Galleries.
Cecil Beaton curated an exhibition of 1,200 20th-century
high-fashion garments and accessories, including gowns worn by leading
socialites such as Patricia Lopez-Willshaw,
Gloria Guinness and Lee
Radziwill , and actresses such as
Audrey Hepburn and Ruth Ford .
After the exhibition, Beaton donated most of the exhibits to the
Museum in the names of their former owners.
In 1999, V&A began a series of live catwalk events at the museum
titled Fashion in Motion featuring items from historically significant
fashion collections. The first show featured
Alexander McQueen in June
1999. Since then, the museum has hosted recreations of various
designer shows every year including
Anna Sui , Tristan Webber ,
Elspeth Gibson , Chunghie Lee ,
Jean Paul Gaultier
Jean Paul Gaultier ,
Gianfranco Ferré ,
Christian Lacroix ,
Kenzo and Kansai Yamamoto
In 2002, the Museum acquired the Costiff collection of 178 Vivienne
Westwood costumes. Other famous designers with work in the collection
Coco Chanel ,
Hubert de Givenchy ,
Christian Dior , Cristóbal
Balenciaga , Yves Saint Laurent ,
Guy Laroche ,
Irene Galitzine , Mila
Valentino Garavani ,
Norman Norell ,
Norman Hartnell , Zandra
Hardy Amies ,
Mary Quant ,
Christian Lacroix ,
Jean Muir and
Pierre Cardin . The museum continues to acquire examples of modern
fashion to add to the collection.
1770s sack-back gown
c.1870 wedding dress
1912 Lucile evening dress
1954 Dior evening gown called 'Zemire'
In November 2012, the Museum opened its first gallery to be
exclusively dedicated to furniture. Prior to this date furniture had
been exhibited as part of a greater period context, rather than in
isolation to showcase its design and construction merits. Among the
designers showcased in the new gallery are Ron Arad , John Henry
Belter , Joe Colombo ,
Eileen Gray ,
Verner Panton , Thonet , and
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright .
The furniture collection, while covering Europe and America from the
Middle Ages to the present, is predominantly British, dating between
1700 and 1900. Many of the finest examples are displayed in the
British Galleries, including pieces by Chippendale, Adam, Morris, and
Mackintosh. One of the oldest items is a chair leg from Middle Egypt
dated to 200-395AD.
The Furniture and Woodwork collection also includes complete rooms,
musical instruments, and clocks. Among the rooms owned by the Museum
are the Boudoir of Madame de Sévilly (Paris, 1781–82) by Claude
Nicolas Ledoux , with painted panelling by Jean Simeon Rousseau de la
Rottière ; and Frank Lloyd Wright's Kaufmann Office, designed and
constructed between 1934 and 1937 for the owner of a Pittsburgh
The collection includes pieces by William Kent,
Henry Flitcroft ,
Matthias Lock , James Stuart , William Chambers , John Gillow, James
Wyatt, Thomas Hopper ,
Charles Heathcote Tatham , Pugin, William
Burges , Charles Voysey ,
Charles Robert Ashbee ,
Baillie Scott ,
Edward Maufe ,
Wells Coates and Robin Day . The museum
also hosts the national collection of wallpaper, which is looked after
by the Prints, Drawings and Paintings department.
The Soulages collection of Italian and French
Renaissance objects was
acquired between 1859 and 1865, and includes several cassone . The
John Jones Collection of French 18th-century art and furnishings was
left to the museum in 1882, then valued at £250,000. One of the most
important pieces in this collection is a marquetry commode by the
Jean Henri Riesener
Jean Henri Riesener dated c1780. Other signed pieces of
furniture in the collection include a bureau by
Jean-François Oeben ,
a pair of pedestals with inlaid brass work by
André Charles Boulle ,
a commode by Bernard Vanrisamburgh and a work-table by
Martin Carlin .
Other 18th-century ébénistes represented in the Museum collection
Adam Weisweiler ,
David Roentgen ,
Gilles Joubert & Pierre
Langlois. In 1901, Sir George Donaldson donated several pieces of art
Nouveau furniture to the museum, which he had acquired the previous
year at the Paris Exposition Universelle . This was criticised at the
time, with the result that the museum ceased to collect contemporary
items and did not do so again until the 1960s. In 1986 the Lady
Abingdon collection of French Empire furniture was bequeathed by Mrs
T. R. P. Hole.
There are a set of beautiful inlaid doors, dated 1580 from Antwerp
City Hall , attributed to
Hans Vredeman de Vries . One of the finest
pieces of continental furniture in the collection is the Rococo
Augustus Rex Bureau Cabinet dated c1750 from Germany, with especially
fine marquetry and ormolu mounts. One of the grandest pieces of
19th-century furniture is the highly elaborate French Cabinet dated
1861–1867 made by M. Fourdinois, made from ebony inlaid with box,
lime, holly, pear, walnut and mahogany woods as well as marble with
gilded carvings. Furniture designed by
Ernest Gimson , Edward William
Godwin , Charles Voysey,
Adolf Loos and
Otto Wagner are among the late
19th-century and early 20th-century examples in the collection. The
work of modernists in the collection include
Le Corbusier , Marcel
Charles and Ray Eames
Charles and Ray Eames , and
Giò Ponti .
One of the oldest clocks in the collection is an astronomical clock
of 1588 by Francis Nowe. One of the largest is James Markwick the
younger's longcase clock of 1725, nearly 3 metres in height and
japanned . Other clock makers with work in the collection include:
Thomas Tompion ,
Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy , John Ellicott ">
Baumhauer, Joseph —Commode, with panels of Japanese lacquer ">
The Evelyn Cabinet —Inlaid with panels of Florentine pietre dure;
Cabinet on stand, German, c. 1580
The jewellery collection, containing over 6000 items is one of the
finest and most comprehensive collections of jewellery in the world
and includes works dating from
Ancient Egypt to the present day, as
well as jewellery designs on paper. The museum owns pieces by renowned
jewellers Cartier , Jean Schlumberger ,
Peter Carl Fabergé , Andrew
Hemmerle and Lalique . Other items in the collection include
diamond dress ornaments made for
Catherine the Great , bracelet clasps
once belonging to
Marie Antoinette , and the Beauharnais emerald
necklace presented by Napoleon to his adopted daughter Hortense de
Beauharnais in 1806. The museum also collects international modern
jewellery by designers such as
Gijs Bakker , Onno Boekhoudt , Peter
Chang , Gerda Flockinger , Lucy Sarneel , Dorothea Prühl and Wendy
Ramshaw , and African and Asian traditional jewellery. Major bequests
Chauncy Hare Townshend 's collection of 154 gems
bequeathed in 1869, Lady Cory's 1951 gift of major diamond jewellery
from the 18th and 19th centuries, and jewellery scholar Dame Joan
Evans ' 1977 gift of more than 800 jewels dating from the Middle Ages
to the early 19th century. A new jewellery gallery, funded by William
and Judith Bollinger, opened on 24 May 2008.
Spanish gold and emerald pendant
This collection of more than 45,000 items covers decorative ironwork
, both wrought and cast , bronze, silverware, arms and armour, pewter,
brassware and enamels (including many examples
Limoges enamel ). The
main iron work gallery was redesigned in 1995.
There are over 10,000 objects made from silver or gold in the
collection, the display (about 15% of the collection) is divided into
secular and sacred covering both Christian (
Roman Catholic ,
Greek Orthodox ) and
Jewish liturgical vessels and items.
The main silver gallery is divided into these areas: British silver
pre-1800; British silver 1800 to 1900; modernist to contemporary
silver; European silver. The collection includes the earliest known
piece of English silver with a dated hallmark, a silver gilt beaker
dated 1496–97. Silversmiths' whose work is represented in the
Paul de Lamerie and
Paul Storr whose Castlereagh
Inkstand dated 1817–19 is one of his finest works. The main iron
work gallery covers European wrought and cast iron from the mediaeval
period to the early 20th century. The master of wrought ironwork Jean
Tijou is represented by both examples of his work and designs on
paper. One of the largest items is the
Hereford Screen , weighing
nearly 8 tonnes, 10.5 metres high and 11 metres wide, designed by Sir
George Gilbert Scott
George Gilbert Scott in 1862 for the chancel in
Hereford Cathedral ,
from which it was removed in 1967. It was made by Skidmore with highly
elaborate and intricate intertwining branches containing small figures
and inscriptions, it is a tour de force of bronze casting. Also of
importance is the
Becket Casket dated c1180 to contain relics of St
Thomas Becket , made from gilt copper, with enamelled scenes of the
saint's martyrdom. Another highlight is the 1351 Reichenau Crozier.
Burghley Nef , a salt-cellar, French, dated 1527–28, uses a
nautilus shell to form the hull of a vessel, which rests on the tail
of a parcelgilt mermaid, who rests on a hexagonal gilt plinth on six
claw-and-ball feet. Both masts have main and top-sails, and
battlemented fighting-tops are made from gold. These items are
displayed in the new Medieval ">
Becket Casket , the most elaborate, the largest and possibly the
earliest Becket reliquary,
Limoges enamel , c. 1180–90
Burghley Nef —Silver-gilt salt cellar , France, 1527–28
Gloucester Candlestick , a masterpiece of English metalwork, c.
Tabernacle, Cologne, Germany, c. 1180
Musical instruments are classified as furniture by the museum,
although Asian instruments are held by their relevant departments.
Among the more important instruments owned by the museum are a violin
Antonio Stradivari dated 1699, an oboe that belonged to Gioachino
Rossini , and a jewelled spinet dated 1571 made by Annibale Rossi.
The collection also includes a c. 1570 virginal said to have belonged
to Elizabeth I , and late 19th-century pianos designed by Edward
Burne-Jones, and Baillie Scott.
The Musical Instruments gallery closed 25 February 2010, a decision
which was highly controversial. An online petition of over 5,100
names on the Parliamentary website led to Chris Smith asking
Parliament about the future of the collection. The answer, from Bryan
Davies was that the museum intended to preserve and care for the
collection and keep it available to the public, with items being
redistributed to the British Galleries, the Medieval & Renaissance
Galleries, and the planned new galleries for Furniture and Europe
1600–1800, and that the
Horniman Museum and other institutions were
possible candidates for loans of material to ensure that the
instruments remained publicly viewable. The Horniman went on to host
a joint exhibition with the V">
A natural horn
A serpent (a sort of bass cornett )
PAINTINGS (AND MINIATURES)
The collection includes about 1130 British and 650 European oil
paintings , 6800 British watercolours , pastels and 2000 miniatures ,
for which the museum holds the national collection. Also on loan to
the museum, from Her Majesty the Queen
Elizabeth II , are the Raphael
Cartoons : the seven surviving (there were ten) full scale designs
for tapestries in the
Sistine Chapel , of the lives of Peter and Paul
from the Gospels and the
Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles . There is also on
display a fresco by
Pietro Perugino dated 1522 from the church of
Perugia ) and is amongst the painter's last
works. One of the largest objects in the collection is the Spanish
tempera on wood, 670 x 486 cm, retable of St George, c. 1400,
consisting of numerous scenes and painted by Andrés Marzal De Sax in
19th-century British artists are well represented.
John Constable and
J. M. W. Turner are represented by oil paintings, water colours and
drawings. One of the most unusual objects on display is Thomas
Gainsborough 's experimental showbox with its back-lit landscapes,
which he painted on glass, which allowed them to be changed like
slides. Other landscape painters with works on display include Philip
James de Loutherbourg ,
Peter De Wint
Peter De Wint and John Ward .
In 1857 John Sheepshanks donated 233 paintings, mainly by
contemporary British artists, and a similar number of drawings to the
museum with the intention of forming a 'A
National Gallery of British
Art', a role since taken on by
Tate Britain ; artists represented are
William Blake , James Barry ,
Henry Fuseli , Sir Edwin Henry Landseer,
William Mulready ,
William Powell Frith
William Powell Frith , Millais
Hippolyte Delaroche . Although some of Constable's works came to
the museum with the Sheepshanks bequest, the majority of the artist's
works were donated by his daughter Isabel in 1888, including the
large number of sketches in oil, the most significant being the 1821
full size oil sketch for
The Hay Wain . Other artists with works in
the collection include:
Bernardino Fungai , Marcus Gheeraerts the
Domenico di Pace Beccafumi ,
Fioravante Ferramola , Jan
Brueghel the Elder ,
Anthony van Dyck
Anthony van Dyck ,
Ludovico Carracci , Antonio
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo ,
Domenico Tiepolo , Canaletto,
Francis Hayman ,
Pompeo Batoni ,
Benjamin West , Paul Sandby, Richard
William Etty , Henry Fuseli, Sir
Thomas Lawrence , James
Francis Danby ,
Richard Parkes Bonington
Richard Parkes Bonington and
Alphonse Legros .
Richard Ellison's collection of 100 British watercolours was given by
his widow in 1860 and 1873 'to promote the foundation of the National
Collection of Water Colour Paintings'. Over 500 British and European
oil paintings, watercolours and miniatures and 3000 drawings and
prints were bequeathed in 1868-9 by the clergymen Chauncey Hare
Townshend and Alexander Dyce.
Several French paintings entered the collection as part of the 260
paintings and miniatures (not all the works were French, for example
Carlo Crivelli 's Virgin and Child) that formed part of the Jones
bequest of 1882 and as such are displayed in the galleries of
continental art 1600–1800, including the portrait of François, Duc
François Clouet ,
Gaspard Dughet and works by
François Boucher including his portrait of
Madame de Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour dated
Jean François de Troy ,
Jean-Baptiste Pater and their
Another major Victorian benefactor was Constantine Alexander Ionides
, who left 82 oil paintings to the museum in 1901, including works by
Adriaen Brouwer , Jean-Baptiste-Camille
Gustave Courbet ,
Eugène Delacroix ,
Théodore Rousseau ,
Edgar Degas ,
Jean-François Millet ,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti , Edward
Burne-Jones, plus watercolours and over a thousand drawings and prints
The Salting Bequest of 1909 included, among other works, watercolours
by J. M. W. Turner. Other watercolourists include: William Gilpin ,
Thomas Rowlandson, William Blake,
John Sell Cotman
John Sell Cotman , Paul Sandby,
Edward Lear ,
James Abbott McNeill Whistler
James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Paul
There is a copy of Raphael's
The School of Athens
The School of Athens over 4 metres by 8
metres in size, dated 1755 by
Anton Raphael Mengs
Anton Raphael Mengs on display in the
eastern Cast Court.
Miniaturists represented in the collection include
Jean Bourdichon ,
Hans Holbein the Younger
Hans Holbein the Younger ,
Nicholas Hilliard ,
Isaac Oliver , Peter
Jean Petitot ,
Alexander Cooper ,
Samuel Cooper , Thomas
Rosalba Carriera ,
Christian Friedrich Zincke , George
John Smart ,
Richard Cosway ">
Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Brandini ,
Rembrandt —The Departure of the Shunammite Woman, c. 1640
Tintoretto —Self-Portrait as a Young Man, c. 1548
Raphael —The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, 1515
Raphael —St Paul Preaching in Athens, 1515
The collection contains more than 500,000 images dating from the
advent of photography, the oldest image dating from 1839. The gallery
displays a series of changing exhibits and closes between exhibitions
to allow full re-display to take place. Already in 1858, when the
museum was called the South Kensington Museum, it had the world's
first international photographic exhibition.
The collection includes the work of many photographers from Fox
Julia Margaret Cameron
Julia Margaret Cameron , Viscountess Clementina Hawarden ,
Gustave Le Gray
Gustave Le Gray ,
Benjamin Brecknell Turner ,
Frederick Hollyer ,
Samuel Bourne ,
Roger Fenton ,
Man Ray ,
Henri Cartier-Bresson , Ilse
Bill Brandt ,
Cecil Beaton (there are more than 8000 of his
Don McCullin ,
David Bailey , Jim Lee and Helen Chadwick
to the present day.
One of the more unusual collections is that of
Eadweard Muybridge 's
photographs of Animal Locomotion of 1887, this consists of 781 plates.
These sequences of photographs taken a fraction of a second apart
capture images of different animals and humans performing various
actions. There are several of John Thomson 's 1876-7 images of Street
London in the collection. The museum also holds James
Lafayette 's society portraits, a collection of more than 600
photographs dating from the late 19th to early 20th centuries and
portraying a wide range of society figures of the period, including
bishops, generals, society ladies, Indian maharajas, Ethiopian rulers
and other foreign leaders, actresses, people posing in their motor
cars and a sequence of photographs recording the guests at the famous
fancy-dress ball held at
Devonshire House in 1897 to celebrate Queen
Victoria's diamond jubilee.
In 2003 and 2007 Penelope Smail and Kathleen Moffat generously
Curtis Moffat 's extensive archive to the museum. He created
dynamic abstract photographs, innovative colour still-lives and
glamorous society portraits during the 1920s and 1930s. He was also a
pivotal figure in Modernist interior design. In Paris during the
1920s, Moffat collaborated with Man Ray, producing portraits and
abstract photograms or "rayographs".
Neptune and Triton
Neptune and Triton
The sculpture collection at the V"> Giambologna—Samson Slaying a
Philistine , c. 1562
Rodin is represented by more than 20 works in the museum collection,
making it one of the largest collections of the sculptor's work
outside France; these were given to the museum by the sculptor in
1914, as acknowledgement of Britain's support of France in World War I
, although the statue of
St John the Baptist
St John the Baptist had been purchased in
1902 by public subscription. Other French sculptors with work in the
Hubert Le Sueur ,
François Girardon ,
Michel Clodion ,
Jean-Antoine Houdon ,
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and
Jules Dalou .
There are also several
Renaissance works by Northern European
sculptors in the collection including work by:
Veit Stoss , Tilman
Hendrick de Keyser , Jan van Schayck , Hans Daucher
Peter Flötner .
Baroque works from the same area include the work
Adriaen de Vries and
Sébastien Slodtz . The Spanish sculptors
with work in the collection include
Alonso Berruguete and Luisa
Roldán represented by her Virgin and Child with St Diego of Alcala c.
Sculptors both British and Europeans who were based in Britain and
whose work is in the collection include
Nicholas Stone , Caius
Gabriel Cibber , Grinling Gibbons,
John Michael Rysbrack ,
Louis-François Roubiliac ,
Peter Scheemakers , Sir Henry Cheere,
Agostino Carlini ,
Thomas Banks ,
Joseph Nollekens ,
Joseph Wilton ,
Sir Francis Chantrey , John Gibson , Edward Hodges Baily
Lord Leighton , Alfred Stevens,
Thomas Brock ,
Alfred Gilbert ,
George Frampton , and Eric Gill. A sample of some of these sculptors'
work is on display in the British Galleries.
With the opening of the Dorothy and
Michael Hintze sculpture
galleries in 2006 it was decided to extend the chronology of the works
on display up to 1950; this has involved loans by other museums,
Tate Britain, so works by
Henry Moore and Jacob Epstein
along with other of their contemporaries are now on view. These
galleries concentrate on works dated 1600 to 1950 by British
sculptors, works by continental sculptors who worked in Britain, and
works bought by British patrons from the continental sculptors, such
as Canova's Theseus and the Minotaur. The galleries overlooking the
garden are arranged by theme, tomb sculpture, portraiture, garden
sculpture and mythology. Then there is a section that covers late
19th-century and early 20th-century sculpture, this includes work by
Rodin and other French sculptors such as Dalou who spent several years
in Britain where he taught sculpture.
Smaller-scale works are displayed in the
Gilbert Bayes gallery,
covering medieval especially English alabaster sculpture, bronzes,
wooden sculptures and has demonstrations of various techniques such as
bronze casting using lost-wax casting .
The majority of the Medieval and
Renaissance sculpture is displayed
in the new Medieval and
Renaissance galleries (opened December 2009).
One of the largest objects in the collection is the \'s-Hertogenbosch
rood loft , from the Netherlands, dated 1610–13 this is as much a
work of architecture as sculpture, 10.4 metres wide, 7.8 metres high,
the architectural framework is of various coloured marbles including
columns, arches and balustrade, against which are statues and
bas-reliefs and other carvings in alabaster, the work of sculptor
Conrad van Norenberch.
Donatello —One of the finest surviving examples of Donatello's work
in rilievo schiacciato
Andrea della Robbia
Andrea della Robbia —Adoration of the Magi
Claude Michel (Clodion) —Cupid and Psyche, in
The collection of textiles consists of more than 53,000 examples,
mainly western European though all populated continents are
represented, dating from the 1st century AD to the present, this is
the largest such collection in the world. Techniques represented
include weaving, printing, quilting embroidery, lace , tapestry and
carpets. These are classified by technique, countries of origin and
date of production. The collections are well represented in these
areas: early silks from the Near East, lace, European tapestries and
English medieval church embroidery.
The tapestry collection includes a fragment of the Cloth of St Gereon
, the oldest known surviving European tapestry. A highlight of the
collection is the four
Devonshire Hunting Tapestries , very rare
15th-century tapestries, woven in the Netherlands, depicting the
hunting of various animals; not just their age but their size make
these unique. Both of the major English centres of tapestry weaving of
the 16th and 17th centuries respectively, Sheldon ">
Mille Fleur Tapestry, Flemish, 16th Century Flemish
Devonshire Hunting Tapestries , Detail of the Boar and Bear Hunt,
Netherlands, mid-15th century
THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE
The V&A Theatre & Performance galleries, formerly the Theatre Museum
, opened in March 2009. The collections are stored by the V it
provides research facilities for students at degree level and beyond,
with information and access to the collections. It also oversees the
content of the museum's web site in addition to publishing books and
papers on the collections, research and other aspects of the museum.
Several areas of the collection have dedicated study rooms, these
allow access to items in the collection that are not currently on
display, but in some cases require an appointment to be made.
The new Sackler education suite, occupying the two lower floors of
Henry Cole Wing opened in September 2008. This includes lecture
rooms and areas for use by schools, which will be available during
school holidays for use by families, and will enable direct handling
of items from the collection.
V other studies contribute to systematic research, this develops the
public understanding of the art and artefacts of many of the great
cultures of the world; visitor research and evaluation to discover the
needs of visitors and their experiences of the museum. Since 1990 the
museum has published research reports these focus on all areas of the
Conservation is responsible for the long-term preservation of the
collections, and covers all the collections held by the V&A and the
V&A Museum of Childhood. The conservators specialise in particular
areas of conservation. Areas covered by conservator's work include
"preventive" conservation this includes: performing surveys,
assessments and providing advice on the handling of items, correct
packaging, mounting and handling procedures during movement and
display to reduce risk of damaging objects. Activities include
controlling the museum environment (for example, temperature and
light) and preventing pests (primarily insects) from damaging
artefacts. The other major category is "interventive" conservation,
this includes: cleaning and reintegration to strengthen fragile
objects, reveal original surface decoration, and restore shape.
Interventive treatment makes an object more stable, but also more
attractive and comprehensible to the viewer. It is usually undertaken
on items that are to go on public display.
Room 81—The Ionides Bequest—82 paintings donated
Museum galleries Asia
Porcelain Vase, Ming Dynasty c.1550
Chinese lacquerware table, 1425–1436
Pietro Torrigiani's bust of Henry VII
Jacket and portrait of Margaret Laton, about 1610, no. T.228-1994
Honoré Pelle's bust of Charles II
James II's wedding suit
Grinling Gibbon's Stoning of St Stephen
Stoke Edith hanging
Luis-Francois Roubiliac's George Frideric Handel
Robert Adam ceiling from the Adelphi
Panels from the Glass Drawing Room
William Burges decanter
Sideboard , 1867–1870,
Edward William Godwin (1833–80) V">
Metalwork gallery, 1st floor
George Gilbert Scott
George Gilbert Scott —Screen from
Hereford Cathedral , 1862
Constable —View of
Salisbury Cathedral , 1823
Turner —Venice from the
Giudecca , 1840
François Boucher —
Madame de Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour , Mistress of
Louis XV ,
Nicolas Lancret —The Swing, 1735
Jean François de Troy —The Alarm, or the Gouvernante Fidèle, 1723
Carlevarijs — Two Studies of Men, c. 1700–10
Perugino — The Nativity ; the Virgin, St Joseph and the Shepherds
adoring the Infant Christ
Tiepolo — St Leo in Glory
Rodin —Age of Bronze, 1877
Canova —The Three Graces , 1814–17
Room 22—Sculpture 1600–1870,
Canova —Theseus and the Minotaur
Room 24—Sculpture 1600–1870
Bust of Oliver Cromwell
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