From the moment I first stepped foot in London I began a long list of favourite places that I come back to again and again but for reasons unknown I never really took the time on my holidays here as a tourist to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then last year my mum suggested that we went because both of us would be able to find something of interest there. For me the photography collection, for my mum the galleries of glass design and for both of us the amazing jewellery room. Later I came back for lectures with my History of Art class and so slowly, the museum grew on me.
I think it is like that for many of the people who love the V&A and come back again and again. Like the city itself, the museum has so many things to see and discover that you are never really finished with it. I think I might have seen about 10 % of the collections, if even that! My love for the museum has only grown since I recently got involved with CreateVoice! the museums Young People’s Collective, as I now also see it as a place to meet other like minded people and a place that belongs to me, in the same way I feel about St. Georges Garden or Gordon Square in Bloomsbury.
So when I was offered the opportunity to volunteer at the Making It Festival this Saturday, I dragged my parents down to South Kensington, told them to have fun (especially my dad, who had never seen the place before!) and went upstairs to the Learning Centre to do some volunteering. Spending a few hours working there, meeting other young people interested in art and design only made me love the museum even more.
So here are the 10 reasons why I love the Victoria and Albert Museum so much and why it’s worth a visit:
- It’s free! Being on a student budget it does matter for me whether or not it costs money to enter a museum & luckily the V&A is free like most of the other big museums in London.
- The V&A is not limited to one type of art or design and it doesn’t separate the two in the same way that eg. the National Gallery and the Design Museum does. It’s this interdisciplinary approach which I think makes it a unique museum in both LDN and the rest of the world because it doesn’t distinguish between what has more value.
- The museum shop is one of the best in London due to the fact that it sells a lot of screen prints, postcards and jewellery by contemporary illustrators and jewellery designers, which have been inspired by the V&A collections or London.
- They have free festivals! Like the London Design Festival that took place in September, which celebrated the heritage of London as a place for contemporary design and established designers, and also the Making It: Careers in Art and Design Festival for young people, with workshops and talks to help the next generation of artists and designers find their way.
- The grand Rotunda Chandelier glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly that hangs from the ceiling above the main entrance that combines art & design. How amazing is that?!
- Open Fridays! Many London museums are open on Friday evenings but V&A is the only one I have been to so far. The museum feels a lot more quiet at night but at the same time it’s still vibrant with life from all the visitors. It’s a strange but wonderful combination.
- Each gallery is so different in style and decoration, so each room is a new world you can enter into. They will never be “just another room”.
- Most of us look at the art works but we sometimes forget to look up at the beautifully decorated ceilings or the amazing, different mosaic floors, which the V&A has a lot of!
- Discovering hidden gems you didn’t know was there, like when I stumbled upon original posters by Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse-Lautrec on a wall in a corner one day as I walked up to the learning centre for a CreateVoice! meeting. I had never seen an original Mucha before!
- The photography Collection – My absolute favourite place in the entire museum! They often change the photographs exhibited so I never get bored of watching the history of photography through the collection and discover new favourites like the photo of a reflection in a puddle of rain in a street. I always come back for Eugene Atget‘s documentary photographs of Paris streets and architecture before they disappeared in modernization.
So these are my reasons! Have you ever been to the V&A and what is your favourite collection there? *