V&A Overload


On previous visits to London, I've given the Victoria and Albert museum a pass. I always like to leave a city with at least one good reason to return and the V&A was my sacrifice. But not this time.

It has an abundance of interesting decorative and practical arts. More than enough to spend a full day enjoying. It's big and confusing and under construction, but if you don't mind being lost on the third floor desperate to reach the garden cafe on the ground floor but unable to find a stairwell not blocked off for maintenance, then the V&A is a great place. On the other hand, if you really want to get to the garden cafe from the 3rd floor, you're going to hate it.

I sauntered through the first floor fashion collection to start, admiring and examining garments dating from the 1600s to last year. There are some stunning pieces. A floor length white velvet and fur evening coat-dress from the 1980s took my breath away, as did the bold jungle-floral pantsuit from the 1970s - but not in the same way. I laughed when I encountered the "novelty bustle pad" from 1837 that played God Save The Queen every time the wearer sat down.

Upstairs, I found the textile galleries. I spent most of my time there pulling random "frames" from their cases. The frames are a catalog of textile samples - laces, embroidery, weaving, prints - from medieval to 19th century. The cloth fragments are mounted in very large glass-fronted picture frames and stored vertically, like books on a shelf. You slide them out to look at them. There are hundreds of them. I looked at perhaps 40 before I got too hungry to think

And that's when I got lost. It took way too long to find stairs heading where I wanted to go and I got frustrated. But that's not going to permanently taint my judgement of the V&A. Next time I'll eat lunch before I go...


Being crazy about Ancient Egypt, I always loved to go to the London Museum, when I was a kid living there. I don't know about now, but at that time, I managed to touch the Rosetta Stone. Apparantly that was a big deal for me.

Also loved the Natural History and Science Museums. Never could develop much interest in V&A though really want to see it now.

Enjoy your stay and keep us posted.

hey, Kristen, glad you got a chance to spend some time in the V&A, but too bad about getting lost. Last time I was there I spent most of my time ogling their incredible collection of decorative tins.

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  • Lenora: hey, Kristen, glad you got a chance to spend some read more
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