Browse the extensive collection at this vast museum, which is devoted to decorative arts and design.
The enormous Victoria and Albert Museum is home to more than 4.5 million artifacts and 145 galleries. Set across a 12.5-acre (5.1-hectare) site, the collection covers 5,000 years of art history and features objects from several continents. Check out the intriguing artworks that range from textiles and furniture to prints and photographs.
Founded in 1852, this extraordinary museum was moved to its current site in 1857. It was originally known as the Museum of Manufactures and then the South Kensington Museum. It didn’t take on its current name until 1899, when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for the museum’s new building and it was renamed in her honor. Take some time to admire its grand Victorian façade from outside.
The museum lays claim to the world’s largest array post-classical sculptures. Be sure to see the Italian Renaissance collection, which is among the most comprehensive collections of its kind outside of Italy. Elsewhere, there are enough exhibit areas in the museum to keep you occupied for hours, including displays dedicated to drawing, jewelry and metalwork.
Explore the theater area, which is constantly being updated with set designs and photographs. Don’t miss the Japanese-focused displays, where you’ll find armor, dress, woodwork and paintings. The fashion section showcases four centuries’ worth of stylish attire. Marvel at gowns from the 1600s and learn about the post-war fashion of the 1960s.
Borrow an activity backpack full of fun games and puzzles for your kids, so they can learn about the museum’s themes in a more accessible and fun way.
When you tire of exploring, look around the shop, where you will find elegant fashion accessories, prints, books and works of art. Try sandwiches, pastries and cakes in the main café and head outside to the Garden Café in the summer. You may want to combine a visit here with trips to other worthwhile neighboring attractions, such as the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park.
The Victoria and Albert Museum opens daily from morning to late afternoon, with later closing times on Fridays. Entrance is free. Take the London Underground to South Kensington or Knightsbridge stations. The museum is just a short walk from there.