The Victoria and Albert Museum first opened in 1852 and moved to its current location in 1857. Queen Victoria herself officially opened the museum on June 22nd. From the beginning, the museum focused on more practical decorative items – metalwork, furniture, textiles, etc. It catered to ordinary working class citizens, reflected in its evening and nighttime opening hours (enabled by gas lighting). The collection quickly grew to feature items from around the world and throughout history.
The collections span the globe, but there is a clear focus on Great Britain. It traces the development of British culture through decoration. It is a unique perspective, and there are lots of unique and compelling exhibits. Some highlights include the Raphael Cartoons, the sculpture court, the dress collection, and the British Galleries, which offer a comprehensive history of British art and design.
This is one of the best and most interesting museums, and is definitely worth a visit, especially considering the price. There’s a lot to see here, so consider what you want to see ahead of time, or break your visit up into chunks over a couple days.
Address: Cromwell Road, SW7
Telephone: +44 020 7492 2000
Metro: South Kensington (Piccadilly, District, Circle)
Hours: Open daily 10:00-17:45 (22:00 on Fridays)
Free admission; charge for some of the temporary exhibitions.