London

Visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum: Then vs Now

I must admit my first encounter with the Victoria & Albert Museum was far from perfect. My original impression 8/9 years ago was something in the lines of …

1. The name?! This was before the Young Victoria and for someone who didn’t know much about the monarchy it just sounded like  a place dedicated to people named Vicky and Al? Stuff should say what it does.. like…umm..the Horniman Museum (insert cheeky monkey emoji here)

2. It’s neighbours are the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum – it’s guess it’s like the unloved and under-shadowed sibling that’s kept in the attic.

3. When I visited one of the main collections I got lost and ended up in the ‘Fences’ section – yep, old bits of metal from across the ages – not even a white picket option was there – though they did have some gates … sadly they didn’t lead to the escape exit !

4. Speaking of exits I quickly escaped to its gardens – which are pretty chilled, not on weekends though.

5. Fences!!! I really can’t stop thinking about them – a major museum in one of the major world cities and it’s got fences. Apologies to the fence lovers out there – maybe you can educate me one day.

I recently returned to give it another shot – people deserve a second chance so why shouldn’t museums – and though it’s a bit of a confused mess of stuff – I went away not too unhappy.

1. The fences were gone – hooray – maybe they are now happily in the National Fence Museum.

2. My highlights were some fun renaissance artefacts and a few rooms set up to show how people, well rich/famous people, lived. The medieval stuff was good but sadly as you go back it’s heavily religious focused – as those priests were good at storing their expensive stuff – the peasants were all ‘minimalist living’ and recycled everything obviously. The other exhibits (Asian art, materials, etc) were well documented but again – a tad stuffy – despite the “fun facts and questions “ they included on some descriptions.

3. It’s still a bit of a maze – even with a clear map the individual collections are split across several floors – not very helpful, unless you’re up for a bit of orienteering – then this might be for you! And what’s with the super dim lights?

4. There’s a few places to try on clothes/armour/accessories – but they feel a bit unloved and out of place as it has a bit of a stuffy vibe and great aunt’s closet smell.

5. Lastly I must tip my hat to the place for getting me so excited to see some Dutch places represented among many UK/French/German – so much so I kinda shouted “I’ve been there!!” much to the surprise of the staff. And also – so much love for all the exhibits and mentions on me – well on Tea! It’s truly a timeless wonder and elixer of life.

PS. Here’s a photo of a painting of a dog stealing a slipper and it may well be the best thing ever.

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