Opened in 1852, the V&A Museum was part of Price Albert’s endowment to the nation after the successful Great Exhibition in 1851, for the “improvement of public taste and design.” The museum’s 146 galleries boast the world’s greatest collection of decorative arts, from ancient Chinese ceramics, to Elizabethan gowns to modernist architectural drawings.
The entrance showcases a blue-and-yellow blown-glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly. The Cast Courts contain caster plaster casts such as Michelangelo’s David. The TTTsui (China) Gallery features a regal statue of Guanyin (a Mahayana bodhisattva) from AD 1200, seated in a stately lalitasanapose.
Also on exhibit are ceramics, textiles, carpets, glass and woodwork from the 8thcentury to WWII. The extraordinary Jewellery Gallery, accessed by an amazing glass and Perspex spiral staircase, thrills jewelry addicts with watches, gold boxes, and jewel-encrusted swords.
Visit: Cromwell Rd, SW 7, Knightsbridge SW7 2 RL; 020-7942 2000; vam.ac.uk