Victoria and Albert museum in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea area of London is in my book a must visit. I am kind of surprised at myself that it took this long to check it out! I just had no idea what we were missing. As they say, better late than never because, not only did we enjoy visiting the museum for the first time on this latest London visit, we actually went back again for a second time within the same week. Yeah..it’s that good!
Awesome Victoria and Albert Museum: History
The Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) was founded in 1852. It is of course named after Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert who was also her first cousin. Those royals just didn’t believe in spreading their wealth did they?. Has much changed nowadays? :-) It started life as the Museum of Manufactures and the collections were of applied arts and science. Queen Victoria made her last official appearance at the laying of the foundation stone on May 17, 1899. The name was officially changed then. Her speech ended with the words ” I trust that it will remain for ages a Monument of discerning Liberality and a Source of Refinement and Progress”. Mission accomplished!
3 reasons why Victoria and Albert museum is worthy of a visit:
The V&A museum has 145 galleries in over twelve acres! It houses over 5,000 years worth of art from Europe, America, Africa and Asia. It is important to have a battle plan when you visit. We had mistakenly thought we could see the collection in about 3-4 hours. That is until we got there ;-). I had wanted to see the textiles and fashion collection while Federico was interested in seeing the photography one. Both were on the second floor and armed with our map, we were on our merry way. The only problem was that we were easily sidetracked by all the amazing works of art that we had to pass by and of course stopped to admire. Before we knew it, several hours had passed without making it to the second floor. We decided to come back a couple of days later. We did make it to the second floor this time, but only to the photography section. The fashion collection will have to wait for another time. I really want to see the old Victorian wedding gowns especially. My point is you could literally spend a few hours a day for a week straight and still not see everything. At last count, the Victoria and Albert museum has over 6 million objects. Even though not all are on display (4.5 million permanent) at any one time, you can see what l mean about the size. Just the sculptures number over 17,000 including full size replicas of Michelangelo’s David and Bernini’s Rape of Persephone among others. Even having seen the originals at the Borghese Gallery, we were still duly impressed. Since there is a lot of walking to be done, comfortable shoes are a must.
No matter what your taste in art is, it’s almost a guarantee that you would find something to your liking. Furniture, metal work, ceramics, glass, paintings, sculptures, miniatures, fashion, even musical instruments. The list goes on. If for some insane reason none of these appeal to you and you consider yourself a bookworm, rejoice in the fact that the Victoria and Albert museum also has one of the biggest collection of books in the world. Over 750,000 of them, including the Codex Forster, some of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. Famous popular authors like Charles Dickens and Beatrix Potter are also well represented. There is just no pleasing you if you can’t find something to love ;-).
This is perhaps the best reason of all. London is a very expensive city. Sure, you can visit and do things to cut down on the costs, but overall, compared to other places, you will spend more. Any activities you can do freely is therefore welcome. The Victoria and Albert museum is funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Like all other national British museums, entry is free. Gratis! Compare that to the entry fee of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston ($25) or €15 for the Louvre and you see what an awesome deal this is. If there is a special exhibition, there is a charge for that. There is an upcoming Pink Floyd one which we would have loved to see and would gladly pay for. These are reasons why l think a visit to the very awesome Victoria and Albert museum is a must. It is wall to wall chock full of good stuff! Next time we’re in London, we’ll pick up where we left off :-).
Tips on visiting Victoria and Albert Museum:
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- You can check your coats and small items at the coat check for £1 if you don’t want to lug it around.
- Consider bringing some water and your own packed lunch to save money. There is a cafe at the museum, but the prices are dear for what you get. £7 for a simple sandwich and £3 for a sliver of cake ;-). Better yet, visit on a full stomach. It’s a posh area and the closest cafe to the bus stop we saw was pretty expensive.
- The nearest tube station is South Kensington station, just a 4 minute walk from there. It’s on the same road as the world famous Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, so you could walk another 10 minutes from there or take the C1 bus and get off at the museum stop.
- If you’re short on time, determine what collections you would like to visit before hand. Grab a map upon entry at the information desk and head straight there. It is very easy to get distracted.
- Since you are in London, carrying alightweight raincoat is a good thing as it rains so frequently.
Victoria and Albert Museum Hours:
10AM- 10PM Fridays
Have you visited Victoria and Albert museum? If yes, what did you think of it? If not, is this a place you would care to visit? What collection would you head for?