While I was in London last month, I happily revisited my favorite museum of all time: the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. It’s a museum of art and design, and I love it so because it’s full of objects. Lamp stands, and keys, and pieces of gates, and even a staircase from the 1500s. In other words: items that were just a practical part of someone’s home. I get fascinated staring at, say, a well-head from the 1600s.
Or this “cresting,” now gracing one of the museum halls:
All the tag for this piece said was that it probably sat atop a larger screen or gate. Amazing. Look at the impish little sprites running around the iron. Whose gate was this? And how great is it that just because they needed a gate, they didn’t make it plain, or unimaginative, or purely utilitarian?
As you might have surmised, I have a thing for the ironwork exhibit, but there is so much more: jewelry, glass, photography, silver, stained glass… and coming in 2012, furniture, which I cannot wait to see. Special exhibitions occasionally have an entrance fee, but admission to the museum is free (you can donate if you wish; a map costs L1). Got that? Free.
And if all of this is not exciting enough, while we were there I snagged a little postcard. Wouldn’t you know they’ve gone and opened the Victoria and Albert Museum Reading Rooms nearby at no. 8 Exhibition Road? I already love European cafes for being equal parts coffee and beer or wine, but this is “part bookshop, part wine bar.” You can browse an eclectic book collection while sipping a glass of wine. I have to stop thinking about this, or I am going to be trying to convince Tim that we need to live in London, which I think would be futile, and I’m trying to waste less time.
So please: if you are able, take constant advantage of this gorgeous museum. And visit the Reading Rooms and tell me if they are as wonderful as they sound.
And also: do you like the blog redesign?