London Drum

Victoria & Albert Museum – Art, Design & Fashion

Victoria & Albert Museum
Where? Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington · Web: Opening times? 10 AM to 5.45 PM (Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun); 10 AM to 10 PM (Fri); Last entry 1 hour before closing Visiting hours may change Price? Free Time required? A typical visit is 2-3 hours Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430, 710, C1 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is South Kensington Circle District Piccadilly Train fares

Craig’s review… It’s certainly a very handsome looking building from the outside, more like a cathedral than a museum of fashion and design. If you don’t think you’re their target audience then wait until you see what’s inside before making up your mind because this place is great.

Asian art and ceramics

I’m starting off with the China section which is nice enough I suppose… if you like teapots and chamber pots. They’ve got some statues and tapestries in here, plus some of those old blue and white Ming dynasty vases that will probably cost a fortune if you smash them. There’s not a lot you can say about them really. Here’s a teapot. It’s old. Here’s a vase. It’s old as well. Yeah, nice.

The Japanese section is a bit better because they’ve got a collection of daggers and swords and intricate leather armours from the days of the Samurai. They’ve got plenty of folding screens and fans as well, but my favourite items are the old Oriental watercolours of pretty little bridges and blossom trees and waterfalls where the ink lines are so fine and delicate that if a gust of wind blew through the room it would probably dash it all away.

The Cast Room

The Cast Room has got to be one of the most amazing spaces in London. Do you remember that scene at the end of Indiana Jones when the Ark of the Covenant gets carted off to that big warehouse full of ancient treasures? Well, that room could have been modelled on this one. It’s the movie come to life. Alas, none of them are real because they’re all plaster casts and clay impressions, but imagine a room full of monuments and statues and huge concrete columns from the wreck of Rome. We’re talking full-size tombs of kings and queens and nobles, crucifixes, church altars, carved facades about twenty-feet tall that are covered in fantastic sculptures of praying saints and angels. They’ve even got Trajan’s Column in here!

Art from the Islamic world

The Islamic gallery is a bit more sedate. It’s just a lot of pots and plates and carpets and a big Persian rug. They like a nice bit of carpet in India as well because their rooms are full of mats and rugs as well. If the V&A ever gets bored of being a museum then they could open up a pretty good branch of CarpetLand.

Stained-glass windows

This next gallery is full of Jesus. They’ve got stained-glass windows, stone statues, delicately crafted wooden crosses, marble carvings, old oil paintings… every kind of Jesus you can imagine. My favourite was the statue of St. Peter riddled with woodworm.

The stained-glass windows upstairs are absolutely fantastic. Imagine a dark corridor lit with deep greens, sunshine yellows and fiery reds… they really glow gold when they’re six-feet from your nose. And the cabinets are filled with goblets, chalices, flagons for wine, lots of silver pewter too… thick chunky crosses inlaid with precious stones and ornate little boxes filled with the finger bones of saints. The church certainly had a bit of money to spend. If you’ve ever wondered where your collection money goes every Sunday then here it is.

More rooms filled with silver shields, swords and candlesticks, lanterns, guns and rifles. It just goes on and on… rooms and rooms of gold and silver stuff. I’d hate to think how much all of this is worth. And that’s before you even get to the gallery full of Constables and Turners!

Raphael’s Sistine Chapel studies

One room has got twenty-two Constables in it (I counted them). The next one’s all Gainsborough. Now I’m in a huge room displaying Raphael’s preparatory studies for the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

Even the drama section is worth a look. The cabinets are full of outlandish costumes, props for plays, old panto posters and pop-up theatres, and right in the heart of the darkened room is a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Worth a visit? Value for money? freeGood for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try King’s Gallery (walk it in 26 mins or travel from South Kensington to St Jamess Park via tube); Museum of the Home (travel from South Kensington to Old Street via tube) and Wallace Collection (travel from South Kensington to Bond Street by tube)

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Your comments and questions

Grace I have been to see the fashion installations, showing dress through the ages, and I just marvelled at how beautifully preserved they were - really well done with lots of space around and mirrors so you can see all angles of the costumes. I went up to see the gems collection too - being a bit of a magpie - it was just wonderful to see the jewellery, diamonds and famous gems. The cafe is lovely.

paulo How much is it

Craig Hi Paulo. The main galleries are all free, but they usually have a temporary exhibition on which you'll have to pay for

raf Do they have a cloakroom where i can leave a suitcase

Craig Hi Raf. They do have a cloakroom but only for bags smaller than 56x45x25cm. Prices could be £1-5 depending on the size. They don't allow large bags to be carried around the gallery

Valerie Mootoo Is the museum open on the 30th December 2021?

Craig Hi Valerie. It’s closed from the 24th to 28th but should be open on the 30th

Leave a comment