The Victoria and Albert Museum, otherwise known as the V&A, is I and many Londoners’ favourite museum. Long before the lifestyle magazines, lifestyle bloggers and vloggers, the V&A has been filling that museum gap between History and everyday life. Going through ages and civilisations, the museum showcases items of the everyday life and explain design approaches through various historical eras and geographical locations. There you will learn anything from Medieval metalwork to shopping habits in 1800 England.
This is why I love this museum because you can picture how people were living at different times. But rather than going through the long list of what you can find at the V&A (more than 4.5 million objects!), I thought I would highlight my favourite parts, so when you are visiting you can hunt for those. Be warned some can be challenging to find!
Let’s start in the grand entrance, where you will find the beautiful and gigantic chandelier – a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. It is messy, colourful, fun, and it looks like a glass firework!
Now a here is a tip to see the chandelier from an even better and less crowded angle – head to the second floor and the Medieval and Rennaissance area. Walk through the exhibition and find your way toward the Metalwork area, and right at the entrance of this exhibition, you will be at the mezzanine level just above the grand entrance, with the nicest view of the chandelier!
To get to the best view of the chandelier, I mentioned that you will need to walk through the medieval age exhibition, which is great because it is another of my favourite part!
Start in the beautiful gallery just right of the ticket office.
Walk through the ‘Renaissance City’ and admire the artists live drawing some of the sculptures.
Once at the end of the gallery, you will find the staircase taking you to the Medieval age area.
In the Daylit Gallery, you will find some of the most impressive items the V&A has, an entire staircase, a full house front facade.
The scale of this exhibition is almost too big for your brain to process it.
Walk through the corridors to see everyday life items from the Medieval age, including almost spotless knight armours (one would wonder if it wasn’t more used to show off rather than actually fight).
Walk across the mezzanine and through the metalwork section and go to the fourth floor where you will find my favourite exhibition – the British Galleries – more specifically Great Britain during the Victorian era. I love this section, in particular, because you get a real insight into people’s lives at that time.
A lot of today’s everyday life habits were born at that time, department stores, interior design trends, catalogue shopping, women working, etc.
It is fascinating as it all happened more than one hundred years ago, yet it is so similar to today’s consumer habits.
It is also good to note that the fourth floor British Gallery is far off the beaten path and quiet – which makes it even more pleasant to visit.
Make sure to also check out the Clore Study area, where you will find ‘Breathless‘ a wonderful installation by Cornelia Parker.
End your visit of the British Galleries on the north side and go down one floor to find one of my favourite rooms in the V&A – the library.
To find it you will have to walk through the Modern gallery which is wonderful if you are into interior design. Some iconic household pieces are displayed there.
At the end of the Modern gallery, you will find the National Art Library, a room out of the Beauty and the Beast. Walls and walls of books!
A beautifully ancient library currently hosting a collection of modern design items.
At that point in your visit, you would have already done a fair amount of walking so I recommend you go back downstairs to find the cafe.
The food is good and the sitting areas are beautiful. The cafe definitely worth swinging by!
Vintage or modern atmosphere, you choose!
After a little break, end your visit exploring the fashion section if you like beautiful textiles and glamorous outfits.
The Indian, Korean or Japanese exhibitions for a trip to sunnier and more exotic places.
Or have a break and a ‘wow!‘ moment in front of some of Raphael most beautiful work.
Then head out to continue your London adventure, feeling inspired and a little bit smarter!