Victoria and Albert Museum


Victoria and Albert Museum

Museum of decorative arts in London. It was conceived by Prince Albert as a way to improve the standards of British design by making the finest models available for study. The core collection, consisting of objects purchased at the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition, was originally called the Museum of Ornamental Art and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1857. A new building was later designed by Sir Aston Webb, and the museum was renamed when Victoria laid the cornerstone in 1899; it was opened to the public by Edward VII in 1909. It houses vast collections of European sculpture, ceramics, furniture, metalwork, jewelry, textiles, and musical instruments from medieval times to the present; remarkable Chinese ceramics, jade, and sculpture; the premier collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy; and the outstanding national collection of British watercolours, miniatures, prints, and drawings. It is regarded as the world's greatest decorative-arts museum. Its branch museums include the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood and the Wellington Museum. The Theatre Museum was also a branch until January 2007, when it was closed.

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