Victoria and Albert Museum

Category: Museums and libraries

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A) is on Cromwell Road in Kensington, West London, England. It specialises in applied and decorative arts.

The museum was established in 1852 as the South Kensington Museum, following the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Its first Director was Sir Henry Cole, a utilitarian and joint organiser of the Great Exhibition who acquired some of the objects from the Exhibition for the Collection. Over the years the Museum attracted many important Collections to it.

One of the most dramatic parts of the museum is the Cast Courts in the sculpture wing, comprising two large, skylighted rooms two storeys high housing hundreds of plaster casts of sculptures, friezes and tombs. One of these is dominated by a full-scale replica of Trajan’s Column, cut in half in order to fit under the ceiling. The other includes reproductions of various works of Italian Renaissance sculpture and architecture, including a full-size replica of Michelangelo’s David.

Replicas of two earlier Davids by Donatello and Verrocchio, are also included, although for conservation reasons the Verrocchio replica is displayed in a glass case.

The two courts are divided by corridors on both storeys, and the partitions that used to line the upper corridor were removed in 2004 in order to allow the courts to be viewed from above.


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