Creating the new Europe 1600–1800 Galleries

The V&A’s collection of 17th- and 18th-century European art and design is unrivalled in its range and quality. The Europe 1600–1800 Project will see the renovation, redisplay and reinterpretation of the seven prime galleries dedicated to this period. In these posts, the Project Team take you behind the scenes, providing an insight into the challenges, developments and discoveries involved in a major gallery project.

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Mew-seum Cat Day!

Just as I was about to leave the Museum this evening, I discovered that today is in fact Museum Cat Day! After getting over the disappointment I felt at having not been aware of this momentous celebration of all things feline and ‘museumy’(?!), I set about tracking down some cats which will be taking up […]

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Conserving a Dutch Table Carpet

Today we have another guest entry by Katy Smith, one of the V&A’s Textile Conservators who has been doing sterling work on objects that will be displayed in the new galleries. The smallest of all the tapestries being prepared for the Europe galleries is a Dutch ‘table carpet’ (V&A T.279-1927). The name is deceptive, technically it […]

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The Storming of the Bastille, detail of T.63-1936 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Bastille Day

Today is Bastille Day! Bastille Day (formally called Fête Nationale in France) commemorates one of the most famous events of the French Revolution – the day when Parisian revolutionaries stormed the Bastille on July 14th, 1789. The Bastille was a royal fortress which commanded the eastern side of Paris and was considered to symbolise the monarch’s despotism. The […]

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Curators and technicians discussing the structure of the fountain © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘In the middle of the Table was [a] Fountain … ‘

Over the past three days, visitors to the Museum have had the opportunity to have a sneak preview of one of Museum’s great hidden treasures which will be going into the new Europe Galleries. Technicians, conservators and ceramics curators have been working in the Raphael Court, assembling the many parts of our impressive Meissen ceramic table […]

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‘Cooling Off’, photograph, John Heywood, 1982 (V&A B.146-2013) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

“Can I Have a Taste of Your Ice-cream?”

With the intermittent bouts of hot sun we’ve been having recently, the sight of children (and some adults!) with ice cream smeared across their faces has become an increasingly frequent sight on the streets outside the museum. Ice-cream and sorbets are now a quintessential part of the summer but it may come as a surprise […]

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‘Triumph of Archduchess Isabella in the Brussels Ommegang of Sunday, 31st May 1615’, oil on canvas, Denys van Alsloot, Southern Netherlands, now Belgium (Brussels), 1616 V&A 5928-1859 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Brussels Ommegang

Tonight will see Brussels’ Grand Place packed with spectators for the annual Ommegang, a centuries-old traditional procession that takes place every July in Brussels, Belgium. Ommegang means ‘walking around’ in Old Flemish. Ommegangen were originally religious processions in which relics or venerated images were carried around a prescribed route to mark a particular holy day.  ‘Ommegang’ came to be […]

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Cleaning the Bohemian quilt © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A Big Clean – cleaning textile hangings at De Wit, Belgium

This fortnight, we have an entry written for us by guest blogger Katy, one of the Textile Conservators who has been working on objects to be displayed in the new galleries.   The new Europe galleries will showcase some brilliant and beautiful examples of large textile hangings, including tapestry, needlepoint and wool appliqué. Early on in […]

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Detail from 'Witches' Sabbath', oil painting, Frans Francken (II), Antwerp, 1606 V&A Dyce.3 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Please Touch

For many people the primary way for them to acquire information about objects and the world about them is through touch. For others, tactile experiences help to complete their mental image or understanding of an object. 18th century philosophers endorsed the aesthetic value of touch, considering the tactile experience of handling an artwork necessary to […]

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Detail from a painting going into the Europe Galleries - 'Witches' Sabbath', oil painitng, Frans Francken (II), Antwerp, 1606 V&A Dyce.3 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Open Books

The passion for reading and collecting books became more widespread during the 17th and 18th centuries. Book collecting could be motivated by the simple pleasure of reading, a love of scholarship or, at times, a desire for pretentious ostentation. Throughout Europe many great private book collections were assembled, a number of which came to form […]

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Come Fly With Me

Last week we decided how to make a putto fly. A putto (plural putti) is a figure represented in art as a chubby male child, often nude and sometimes with wings. This particular putto is a statuette made from limewood which was then painted and gilded. He was made in South Germany around 1755-60 and will be featuring in […]

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