The Victoria and Albert Museum
The enormous, comprehensive Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington (at the end of the Cromwell Road, alongside the Natural History and Science Museums) is one of London’s most popular attractions.
The V&A, first established in the mid-19th century, is the world’s largest museum of art and design. Its 45,000 square meters of floor space house a collection of over 4 ½ million items spanning 3,000 years of history.
Inside its ornately decorated Edwardian interior, the museum’s permanent collections comprise sculpture, jewelry, costumes, furniture, paintings, ceramics, weapons, photography and a great deal more from European, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Islamic and other cultures. Just one of its unique collections is a gallery of detailed architectural models of some of Britain’s — and the world’s — greatest buildings.
In addition to the Victoria & Albert’s permanent collection, it also features many temporary loan exhibitions for which you’ll often need to buy a ticket. Past exhibitions have featured anything from the work of Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí to a career retrospective of Australian pop star Kylie Minogue.
The V&A also runs a regular education series; their courses and lectures include explorations of the history/sociology of the cultures and disciplines featured in their collections; practical courses on art, craft and design; and demonstration classes on creative skills from photography to basket weaving.
Providing a respite from sensory (and sometimes crowd) overload, outside you’ll find a sprawling garden courtyard with a large elliptical pond and a rotating series of temporary sculptures.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is open daily from 10am to 5:45 pm daily (open ’til 10pm Fridays). Admission is free and so is an information book you can pick up in the Cromwell Road entrance rotunda. Maps of the museum are free, though they do ask for a £1 donation.
Nearest Tube: South Kensington – Map
The museum features a Tube tunnel entrance, open from 10am-5:40 Saturday-Thursday, 10am-8pm on Fridays.