The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in Kensington has to be one of the greatest museums in the world for Art & Design – it’s packed with an endless treasure trove of fabulous objects spanning thousands of years. And being London, it’s free! It has a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects, from Medieval to Tudor, Renaissance to Rococo, Baroque to Gothic, Chinoiserie to Islam, Modernism to Aestheticism and so much more.
You could spend years roaming these galleries and still miss so much. As it was, we had just a morning to see some of the museum’s many highlights. For me the Islamic Middle East Gallery was breathtaking, where the iconography, graphics and patterns have clearly influenced so many cultures and movements over the centuries. The Raphael Cartoons are a set of seven full-scale designs for tapestry painted on paper by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel in 1515 and considered one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance – housed in a truly spectacular large room. Then there’s the Jewellery Gallery, a fabulously bejewelled dark space that glitters with over 3000 spectacular treasures from ancient times to the present day. I was particularly transfixed by Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet – breathtaking.