The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is my current favourite in London. Established in 1852 to display decorative arts and design, it’s in a gorgeous old building; it’s huge (over four million objects), and it’s full of surprises. I tend to go there without a plan and wander through a different floor or corridor each time. (Like all the great London museums and galleries, entry is free.) I’ve ended up gazing into stain glass, being dazzled by intricate silver goblets and boxes, and drooling over shoes and clothes from the world’s most adventurous designers. There is also a major photography collection.
The ground floor is filled with sculpture and you’ll often find students sitting there sketching, while upstairs is the Art History Library, which is just what a library should be: book-lined with wooden tables, and windows bringing in natural light. Anyone can sit there to read or research, but you do need to check your bag in the cloakroom first. The building forms a square around a lovely interior courtyard and if you think you might get lost or miss some highlights, there are free introductory tours from the main reception, morning and afternoon. The shop is an exhibition in itself with lots of specially designed jewellery, clothing etc – and you can actually take these things home.
Located in South Kensington near the popular Natural History Museum (another wonderful building), you can get there by underground train to South Kensington Station then walk through the museums tunnel which has clearly marked exits. Or walk down from Hyde Park, the Royal Albert Hall, or along from Harrods.
Planning a trip to London? Browse Viator’s London tours & activities, especially our Private Walking tour of Victoria and Albert Museum.