V&A: Hollywood Costume

December 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Posted in London, Tourism | 1 Comment
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Last year we went to the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibit. Again this was a super popular exhibit which meant trying to see items and importantly read the information was particularly challenging.

The collection covered an array of movies so while Dorothy’s red shoes might not be your thing then Indiana Jones may be more to your liking.

If you’re a movie buff then this exhibit was certainly worthwhile. It was also good to see that it had travelled onto Melbourne when I was there (and possibly more cities as well).

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V&A Museum of Childhood

December 26, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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I’d been meaning to visit the V&A Museum of Childhood for a while but it seems so out of the way that I’d put it off. However it’s near Bethnal Green so it’s really a non-issue and I wish I’d taken the chance to come ages ago. It’s very cool.

So why is it cool? Well it has things for all ages from kids to adults, with a mixture of display cabinets and hands on activities (though some of the latter you’ll have to pay for).

The museum provides both a timeline f toys and childhood activities from Victorian times while also applying a kind of scientific classification regime by having sections devoted to different types of toys such as those with a look see component (from those old time spin wheel contraptions to video games) to push/pull toys like bicycles.

Thus it teaches how these larger theories are applied to childhood and even if the kids don’t get it parents will. Although the parents might just as easily be relieving their (or their grandparents) youth by looking at some of the older items.

Personally I saw a lot of familiar 80s/90s examples. I assume there were more recent ones but these weren’t particularly clear.

On the second floor you’ll come across a wide selection of doll houses, various baby cribs through the ages and a special exhibit space. When I visited it was showcasing the work of the Roald Dahl artist Quentin Blake but these change often so best check.

One of my few criticisms is that the display cases have frosted panels providing an explanation of the contents, which is excellent, however they can sometimes obscure an individual item’s description.

All in all a very enjoyable time and one worth visiting – especially as it’s free!

Photos of some of the toys and other displays are at Flickr.

The V&A (the second coming)

July 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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It’s been a while since I last visited the V&A. Certainly a very long time since I had a proper visit. Today I took the opportunity to see the special (and soon to be over) Baroque exhibit, Gilbert Collection and the Theatre Collection.

Baroque: The exhibit discusses the first global style – Baroque and its influence over the course of several hundred years over performing arts, religion and daily life. An adult ticket costs £11 and you can get an audio guide. I didn’t and don’t feel that I’ve missed out. The exhibit was larger than I expected with a number of interesting and intricate pieces. I found the localisation of the style (such as in Asia) particularly fascinating. If you have an interest I art, design and globalisation this would be a worthwhile visit.

Gilbert: if you’ve not had enough opulence at the Baroqe exhibit then make your way past the jewellery and silver collections to the new Gilbert Collection. It features a collection that was built up over the last half of the 20th century and bequeathed to the V&A at Gilbert’s death in 2000. It features a number of fascinating and well made gold pieces, small boxes and micromosaics.

Theatre: London used to have a dedicated theatre museum however this has now closed. The collection was given to the V&A and they’ve presented a snap shot in the new rooms. An attendant advised that it is possible to see the larger collection via special appointment with the information desk. The rooms cover topics such as producing, casting, costumes, legal obstacles, advertising and the sets. It’s all fairly interesting (such as the bishops who’d attend the equivalent of glorified strip clubs) but you’ll be able gloss over some items while reading the descriptions of pieces that grab your attention. For the children they can play dress up in some costumes. Overall very well done condensing a large collection into an accessible overview.

February Lates Roundup 2009

March 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Natural History Museum, Out and About, Science Museum, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Last week was the end of February and that means it was time to revisit South Kensington and its museums for another round of Late night madness.

First up on Wednesday was the Science Museum. I did in fact come despite protestations last time that I wouldn’t come back for a while out of increasing boredom. Word of the event has definitely increased as there were more people than ever including some of my friends and so I thought I’d come again.

Rant – Only one major one, please keep the bars in the same location. Every time I come they’re in a different spot. January when the two were on either side of the ramp was perfect!

Anti-rant – As always there were loads of night only activities including a silent disco (the line was quite long so we didn’t partake but clearly popular) and a DJ in Launchpad – this was the first time I’ve seen people dancing there! I was also thrilled to see that most of the museum was open, including an “astronaut” giving a talk in the space section. Hopefully, future events will see even more of the galleries open. Very popular and enjoyable evening.

Science Museum Lates Feb 09 (2) Science Museum Lates Feb 09 (7)

Friday saw the double Lates of the Victoria and Albert and Natural History Museum. First up was the V&A.

Rant – My rant is basically bar based. The beverages were small and expensive. For example a beer costs almost £4, for about half a pint in a plastic cup, whereas at the Science Museum it’s £3 for a glass bottle of Asahi. Lastly, you can only drink (or eat) in the entry area. So assuming you can wait through the line to get to the bar you’ll have to stand around for a while before you can even get into the museum. I understand that the museum might be concerned about the safety of their pieces. Understandable but if that’s the issue either don’t have a bar or allow people to drink in the galleries but put restrictions on which ones they can go in.

Anti-rant – The activities on offer were excellent. My highlight for the night was a murder mystery where you had to follow a route and gather clues. It was really well devised as the route took you through most parts of the museum and past many other events that you could stop off on before completing your quest. Another fun activity was creating collages that represent us. The hall was filled with people, magazines, glue and scissors all embracing a child like joy at this arts and crafts. Despite my reservations about the bar (best to drink before hand) we all had an excellent time at our first V&A Lates -well recommended!

V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (2) V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (4)

The V&A closes just before 10 and luckily the Natural History Museum stays open until 10:30 so we headed over there to continue the frivolity.

Rant – Granted we got there at 10 but it appeared none of the standard galleries were open, the exception being the ticketed events. In addition unlike the other museums there were no special activities on and when I asked at the information desk the attendant looked at me blankly at such an odd request.

Anti-Rant – The museum offers a wider selection of beverages (including sparkling) compared to the other museums. While the exhibits weren’t open it was still an atmospheric experience to sip drinks under the giant brontosaurus skeleton in the main hall. A nice late event but not essential, probably best to do at the beginning/end of the night, certainly don’t base your evening around it.

V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (20) V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (21)

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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