The Victoria and Albert Museum plus China Design Now exhibit

August 3, 2008 at 9:08 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Located in Kensington, adjacent to the Natural History and Science Museums is the Victoria and Albert Museum (or the V&A if you’re a local).

It has an enormous collection spanning time periods from across the globe. Walking through the exhibits will take a few hours – more if you plan to read in depth on the plentiful display boards.

Generally, the items on display are object d’art and re-creations of living environments with period pieces. Most are exquisitely crafted and it is interesting to see how these skills have developed and the quality of the craftsmens’ abilities.

Easily one of my favourite areas was the plaster cast section, where they have copies of some impressive statues and monuments (such as Trajan’s column). Granted it is all fake but still very cool. Another notable attraction is the Ardabil Carpet in the Middle Eastern section. It is the world’s oldest carpet and is only illuminated for 10 minutes every hour to help preserve its quality.

My main purpose in coming to the V&A was to see the China Design Now exhibit. I’d been meaning to see it for ages, procrastinated and then hurriedly made my way here on its penultimate day. The entry cost was reasonable and I also paid an additional fee for the audio guide. This was a mistake. I’m sure the content was fantastic but standing in front of a single panel for ten minutes is not my idea of engaging content. I quickly stopped using the guide and read the fairly informative display panels instead.

In large part the exhibit focused on the development of Chinese graphic design in print, clothing, music and emerging trends in architecture. I’m pleased that I went as it was fairly engaging. The youth branding areas of design were particularly fun, while their more mundane uses in areas such as school construction was interesting.

Other than special exhibits it is free, which is another huge bonus. Even the size isn’t too much of an issue however it was at times a challenge to navigate. I was frequently looking at my map and doubling back on myself as the wings don’t necessarily interconnect (not to mention all of the side galleries).

At the end of the day don’t let that put you off. The V&A is a fantastic museum that you should see. If museums aren’t your thing you might want to consider coming on one of the late night adults only openings (with DJ’s and bar).

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