Address: Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL


Time: From 10.00am

Time Information:

Phone: 0207 942 2000

Entry Price: Free

2400m from Victoria

250m from South Kensington

The Victoria and Albert Museum opened in 1852, the year after the Great Exhibition, and a number of exhibits came from this famous event. It was the brain-child of first director Henry Cole who felt the new museum should educate and inspire and ‘be a schoolroom for all’.

Prince Albert was a driving force behind the Exhibition and was instrumental in the creation of the Museum. It was first named the Museum of Manufactures and this opened in Marlborough House, soon moving to Somerset House. In 1854, in anticipation of a forthcoming move, it was renamed South Kensington Museum and relocated to its current location in 1857. It expanded rapidly.

New ironwork buildings were put up as an interim measure and some have survived to this day including the Sheepshanks Gallery which was the first built. In 1899 the Aston Webb main entrance building and front facade were built with Queen Victoria laying the foundation stone. It was her last public appearance and she renamed it the Victoria and Albert Museum. Today, the Aston Webb building includes the entrance, Asian galleries, costume gallery and shop.

There was slight building damage during World War II, but the exhibits had either been moved away to safety or given protective barriers. Renovation took place soon afterwards, but the most comprehensive building redevelopment since opening has been the £150m work from 2001.

The collection today is astonishing and includes over 4.5m objects from around the world. Exhibits include 750,000 related books in the public library, gold and silver, pottery by Wedgwood, paintings by old masters, fashion from medieval times to the modern names of Dior, Chanel and Westwood, jewellery by Cartier and Faberge, sculptures by Rodin and Gibbons, glassware up to 4,000 years old, carpets and textiles from the first century, photographs, furniture and period rooms. In all there are 145 galleries.

It lies next to the National History Museum and the Science Museum and, offering free entry, they are amongst the most popular London landmarks..

The images below form only part of the exhibits on show and displays can often change.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.