The V&A Museum

dear diary,

sorry it has been more than a week since my last entry but I have been down in London visiting one of my fave places, the Victoria & Albert Museum. Every time I make a trip to London I have to visit the V&A, even if it is just for an hour or so. This time I had made lot’s of time as I wanted to visit the newly refurbished Room 40 (Fashion) and the great Ballgowns exhibition.

The V&A Museum was established in 1852 after the amazing success of the Great Exhibition during the previous year. The founding principle was to make works of art available to all, to educate the working class and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. The Museum moved to it’s present site in 1857 and was renamed the South Kensington Museum. The collections expanded rapidly, with acquisitions in fine art, metal works, furniture, textiles in order to tell a more complete history of art and design. In 1899, Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of a new building designed to give the Museum a grander facade and entrance. To mark this occasion it was renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum, in memory of the great support Prince Albert had given to it’s foundation.

V&A Front Entrance

Today, as in years gone past, many of Britain’s most successful designers use the V&A as a source of ideas and stimulation and visitors to the V&A have the opportunity to see their work alongside the more historic collections. The V&A is truly a ‘classroom for everyone’ as there are uncountable ways to discover the delights of this amazing venue. There are changing exhibitions as well as numerous rooms that are constantly being updated. Room 40, the Fashion room, has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment.  The room was designed as a spacious domed court with large alcoves, architectural columns, mosaic flooring, and glazed roofing that provided natural light throughout the gallery. The upper gallery was added in 1962 and the lower space was turned into a space for the display of fashion, which remains its purpose. The refurbishments reveal the historic features of the gallery with a new lighting scheme and the renovation of the gallery’s mosaic flooring.

Currently the upper gallery houses the Ballgowns exhibition, featuring a collection of beautiful ballgowns, red carpet evening dresses and catwalk showstoppers.  ‘Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950’ features more than sixty designs for social events such as private parties, royal balls, state occasions and opening nights.

Downstairs the refurbished fashion display is a feast for the eye,with fashions from 1750 to the current day on view, it is a must see for everyone interested in designing with fabric or yarn.

From left: Balenciaga 2004, Charles James 1938, Galliano 1984

I was lucky as I spent a whole three hours wandering and admiring this time and after a lot of ‘uuhhmming and aahhing’ I finally became a member too. It will mean free entry to all exhibitions and ability to join many other events organised by the V&A for it’s members. I think I start planning my next visit now!

V&A Room 40 – A Collage

More information about the V&A and ‘What’s On’, go to www.vam.ac.uk