Monday, July 8, 2013

Day #4&7: The V&A

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is one of my favorite museums I have ever been to. It’s the worlds largest design and decorative arts museum with a collection housing over 4.5 million objects. Oh and did I mention admission is free? Because it is. I love that most of the museum is not just pictures on a wall, instead there are whole galleries dedicated to iron works, mosaics, theater design, stained glass, jewelry and so much more. We had visited the V&A on our last trip to London and realized we hadn’t even scratched the surface of their collection and had to return. We spent most of our time in the Theater & Performance Gallery as well as in their Cast Courts. See more of our favorite pieces after the jump...

The Cast Courts contain a wide range of structures duplicated with plaster casts from shrines and sarcophagi to massive architectural elements such as a two-part cast of Trajan’s Column. The collection comes from structures all over Europe, so there is a wide range of style from piece to piece. The first day I got so carried away with taking pictures I resolved to come back and sketch later in the week. Unfortunately, when I returned the gallery was closed for restorations. I guess even art needs its beauty rest.

I was really into the lions if you couldn't tell.

This frog and I were grumpy our gallery was closed.

It’s always fun to go to museums with people who have different tastes from you because you end up in galleries you would have otherwise sped right past. My sister, ever the ballerina and singer, chose for us the Theater & Performance gallery, which I would have never even noticed on my own. It turned out to be incredibly fun and interactive, despite being incredible dimly lit (so please pardon my dark photos). The collection contains costumes, posters, stage pieces and video from many famous performances. One of our favorite parts was a collection of costumes you were allowed to sample...

A few days later I returned on my own, politely declining a trip to the Museum of London with my sister and mother. While the V&A itself is free, they do feature several exhibits that have an admission fee and I used this day to borrow our hosts membership pass to visit a few of these exhibits for free. There was a big David Bowie hoopla, but I passed over that for Memory Palace, which ended up being one of my favorite parts of the day.

This exhibit features an original piece of fiction by Hari Kunzru featuring work from a variety illustrators and designers to create a multidimensional story. I will try to be concise: they tell the story of a future world where all technology and knowledge has been lost and humanity overrun by a group that enforces a life of simplicity on all people. Collecting, recording and writing are all banned except for the rare few who illegally try to preserve memories of a time before this fall of man. The story is told from the point of view of man imprisoned for this crime, who uses his jail cell to build a memory palace of all the things he can remember, for without memories he believes we as a civilization are doomed.

The results from each artist are extraordinarily diverse and beautifully crafted. Cameras were not allowed so all the following images are from the V&A’s website. The museum has also put out the complete book with all of the text by Hari Kunzru and plenty of images from the exhibition, so naturally, I bought it.

Images starting from top left, going clockwise: Stuart Kolakovic, Stefanie Posavec, Frank Laws, and Jim Kay.

The V&A definitely comes as one of my highest recommendations for places to visit in London: it’s free so even if you don’t like it, you didn’t waste any money. But I would be hard pressed to find someone who can’t find some part of the vast collection to love.

No comments:

Post a Comment