V&A Entrance. All photos courtesy of NHYM 2017.
BETTER IT IS TO GET WISDOM THAN GOLD.
This week, an amazing writer friend of mine who happens to work at the V&A (he is an actual couture expert and teaches in the History of Design MA – incredible!) gave my writing class a private tour of the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington. I didn’t know much about the V&A apart from the fab couture exhibits like the Alexander McQueen exhibit, and last year’s Indian jewellery exhibit, which was equally as fabulous, so I was more than excited to join in.
Inner Courtyard. NHYM 2017.
As we stood in the inner courtyard where quotes like ‘Better it is to get wisdom than gold’ are inscribed in the museum’s facade, he started with a little history: the museum was founded in 1852 by Queen Victoria & Prince Albert as a place where the best art and design from around the world would be displayed to teach the English about design. It has since then become the largest decorative arts and design museum in the world.
Persian Rug. NHYM 2017.
Art and Design is such a broad subject and has such range that it is an enormous museum with 5.5 million objects of art and design, from around the world and through the generations. There are international collections including Asian Art and this Persian rug which has a specially built case that is deprived of light to preserve it – except when it is turned on for 10 minutes every 30 minutes for museum goers to see it.
Hallway and Staircase. V&A. NHYM 2017.
There is a blending of the old and the new at this museum, as you can see from all the Italianate designs and paintings – which at the time were the epitome of art and design -and the modern water feature in the main courtyard.
The Cafe. NHYM 2017.
Here, you can see the modern design of this light – which I love – against the stained glass and ornate decorations in the background. The V&A was the first museum to have a cafe inside and it is still a hub of activity, especially on Friday nights where events like jazz concerts are held.
Jewellery Collection. NHYM 2017.
Of course, I wanted to go straight to the jewellery collection which showcases beautifully crafted jewels of amethysts, topaz and diamonds that illustrate the handicraft and tastes of the time.
Diamond brooch. NHYM 2017.
This above diamond brooch is one of my favourite pieces, which looks like it inspired the Chanel camellia range:
Chanel Camelia Ring. Courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the Chanel ring has been on my ‘Lust List’ for a while. The Boodles Raindance ring, also one of my favourites, is also part of the jewellery collection.
Unfortunately the fashion exhibit was shut as they are preparing for their next exhibit, Balenciaga, which is opening in May.
Theatre Posters. NHYM 2017.
There is an entire theatre and performance collection, which has posters and costumes that even your children would be interested in seeing.
Lion King costumes. NHYM 2017.
Speaking of children, this is a museum I would happily bring my children to, especially the paddling pool in the main courtyard that allows children. And then there is an entire Beatrix Potter collection, where you can see the works of one of the best-loved children’s authors.
Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter. NHYM 2017.
This is apparently the original Peter Rabbit that Beatrix Potter once drew in her South Ken home.
Modern Collection. NHYM 2017
In the modernism collection, modern designs of furniture and objects, as well as photographs are shown. Apparently, to continue collecting modern design, V&A collectors are sent out to the streets of London to pick and choose random pieces of modern design to keep in the collection.
Boom box. NHYM 2017.
But what made me feel really old is when I saw this old boom box from the 80s encased in a special glass framed case, like a shrine. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but show it to a teenager and they will think it was a relic of olden days….
For anyone who loves jewellery and fashion, theatre and music, the new and the old, design and art, this museum is a hub of beauty and creativity, modernity and history that not a lot of museums bring together like it does. Two upcoming exhibits I do not want to miss are the Pink Floyd and the Balenciaga exhibit. Can’t wait!
Thank you so much for the tour of the V&A, it was amazing!