Have you been watching Masterpiece Theater's production of "Victoria"? It's a fascinating look into the unique royal partnership of the newly formed House of Windsor that saw the industrialization of Great Britain. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert cared very much about art, music, culture and history. The V&A Museum houses vast (and I mean huge) collections of arts and crafts from the far reaches of the world, so that the museumgoer can see the development of an art from its inception thousands of years ago, to modern production.
On my visit to London in November 2017, by far my favorite floors of the V&A were Ceramics and Glass (separate floors!). Look closely at the first photo of the blue pottery above. You will see in the background, glass display cases absolutely packed full of ceramics. The shear number of pieces on display in the V&A nearly knocked me flat. It's color, texture, form and design overload! On top of this overwhelming display is the historical documentation of the development of mineral glazes and techniques from around the world from BCE to the present. I could have spent my entire week in London visiting the V&A everyday, and never seen enough, nor gotten bored. The inspiration of the color alone was amazing.
Other highlights of the V&A were the textiles, my favorite of any design museum: the CHAIR room, wrought iron grill work display, teapots scattered everywhere in the museum,and that the cafe served coffee, cake and cans of GIN & TONIC! You have got to love the Brits!
I close with a peek from a 6th floor window of the V&A Museum. Looking through the original casement window, you can see the Natural History Museum of London next door and the winter skate below in its courtyard. It seems a timeless view, transporting.
Queen Victoria opened the museum in 1857 and late night hours (made possible by new "gas lighting") were introduced so that the working class could visit. The focus of the first museum director was on art education and the 4.5 million objects spanning 5,000 years of history demonstrate the art and science of the hand and machine production of everyday items (of course, the museum does show the most exquisite of these items!)
For me, visiting museums can be sensory overload but I invite that! More importantly, it serves to fill the soul. I continue to remember rooms and displays from the V&A and draw from these memories in my work.
The V&A Museum is open daily (except Christmas) and like most museums in London, admission is free.
Photos by Amy Mundinger, 2017