Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
The Victoria & Albert Museum lobby, as eclectic as the collections.
Visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum
A couple of the 13, 000 pages written by Leonardo da Vinci in mirror-image cursive code.
Also known as the V & A, ‘the world’s greatest museum of art and design’ houses a fantastically diverse selection of decorative arts from around the world accumulated over hundreds of years, but with an emphasis on Europe’s Medieval and Renaissance periods.
Having visited all major museums and galleries in London during one summer, the bugcrew feels that the Victoria and Albert Museum is more entertaining, contains more amazing artefacts and is certainly a lot less crowded than our second favourite store of bizarre and fascinating attractions, the British Museum. Though there are specific must-sees in the BM of course.
The script over the entrance reads ‘The excellence of every art must consist in the complete accomplishment of its purpose‘
Entry is free of charge.
Over these pages we offer photos of varied exhibits to give an idea of the depth of the V&A’s collections.
Some Victoria & Albert Museum exhibits
This life size music-box automaton tiger is gnawing on an imperial British warmonger in 1790 military uniform. A crank handle moved the man’s arm and simulates groans. The tiger was owned by Tipu Sultan, ‘the Tiger of of Mysore’, one of India’s most implacable anti-Brits. The tiger fell into British hands in 1799 when the Sultan was killed at the battle of Seringapatam.
Fine marble statuary on display in the lower Sculpture Gallery. The nearby Greek hero Theseus sits on the Minotaur, created in 1782 by Antonio Canova. For a more extreme use of marble, check out the next photo.
Panoramic View of Rome from the Janiculum Hill. Glass micro-mosaic, 1800-1825.
At two metres wide, this picture of Rome, with Vatican City and St Peter’s on the left, is entirely made of glass chips and took Antonio Testa 20 years to complete. Tiny shards of glass are visible as Rome’s founders, Romulus and Remus suckle from a she-wolf.
Medieval & Renaissance Gallery of Victoria & Albert Museum
Altar Pieces, Medieval and Renaissance Gallery, V and A Museum.
The latest offering from the Victoria & Albert Museum is a superb collection of Medieval and Renaissance displays telling the story of arts and crafts in Europe chronologically from the fall of the Roman Empire in 300 AD to the Renaissance in 1600 AD.
A Crucifixion altarpiece in pearwood made about 1527 in Lombardy, Italy.
A Salt Cellar (the Burghley Nef), 1527.
This silver-gilded ship with a small bowl of salt on the deck is based on a nautilus shell. Closer inspection shows Tristan and Isolde playing chess on the deck near the mast. Made in Paris it was owned by the Burghley family and would be placed in front of the guest of honour at dinner.
‘In the 15th and 16th centuries possessions were still markers of nationality, social status and profession. Yet the position of princes and churchmen was increasingly challenged by merchant dynasties. Their financial and political power permitted them to imitate princely pursuits. Among these was the fashion to collect and display curious and beautiful examples of natural and man-made objects’. Victoria & Albert Museum.
The Virgin and Child with Saints. Bernadino Fungai, Siena, Italy, 1500.
The nonchalant babe Jesus waves to his visitors while a goldfinch pecks away at bottom, apparently a reference to Christ’s death as these birds were believed to eat thorns and one took a thorn from Christ’s ‘crown’, earning a red spot on his head.
The V&A’s glorious and ancient cafeteria is a fine and appropriate resting place for overloaded visitors.