Tag: History of the V&A

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Pulling out all the stops: Henry Cole and Royal Albert Hall’s Grand Organ

The Royal Albert Hall: The Great Organ, Orchestra, and Chorus

The BBC Proms season is only just underway so it seems somewhat premature to mention the climactic Last Night of the Proms, when the bronze bust of Sir Henry Wood, borrowed for the duration of the concert series from the Royal Academy of Music and set on a plinth immediately before the Royal Albert Hall’s […]

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Pet Cemetery: Henry Cole, Jim, Tycho and Pickle

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This blog was prompted by an enquiry we received recently about the two commemorative plaques for ‘Jim’ and ‘Tycho’ set into the wall in an obscure corner of the V&A’s John Madejski garden. On Thursday, 30 January 1879, Sir Henry Cole (1808-82), the V&A’s first Director, wrote this poignant entry in his diary: 49 Wilton […]

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‘Mouthing for snuff-boxes’: David Garrick, Macbeth and a gold snuffbox

Garrick's snuffbox

Is this a dagger, which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? (Macbeth, II.i.33-34) David Garrick (1717-79) delivered Macbeth’s famous soliloquy 37 times on the London stage between 1744 and 1768. Thomas Wilkes, in A General View of the Stage (1759), attempted to describe the manner of Garrick’s performance, specifically his unrivaled ability […]

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Of objects and labels: Mr Beresford visits the V&A

'Lago Maggiore from Stresa' by Sir Alfred East

The majority of the 50,000 historical correspondence (or nominal) files in the V&A Archive document the acquisition and loan of museum objects. Some, however, contain correspondence and papers of a more general nature. In the file for George Charles Beresford (1864-1938) we find a combination of acquisition papers and visitor feedback, the latter prompted by a […]

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The Private Life of Gabrielle Enthoven

Enthoven as a young woman.

In February 1931, the sculptor Una Troubridge wrote an entry in her diary about a dinner party she had hosted that evening with her partner, the novelist Radclyffe Hall. Hall had been embroiled in controversy and notorious legal battles over her banned 1928 lesbian novel, ‘The Well of Loneliness’. Over drinks and dinner, Troubridge records that the […]

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Best laid plans: mapping the V&A by Andrew McIlwraith

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Andrew McIlwraith is a PhD researcher in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. His research is funded by the AHRC Design Star Centre for Doctoral Training of which the V&A is a partner.   It’s no secret that the V&A is a complicated building. Even regular visitors may struggle […]

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At least 75% of the children behaved themselves properly

F R Wilson with a school group, 1920s

Here’s another gem from The Times in the 1920s. The perennial problem of children in museums had arisen in the letters pages, and the newspaper approached Sir Cecil Harcourt-Smith, Director of the V&A, for comment… Children in the Museums Sir C. Harcourt Smith’s Views The behaviour of children in museums in London having been the […]

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Time capsules, finding the unexpected in buildings and objects. Part 2

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The secret parcel and other discoveries from the Weston Cast Court. In my previous post I described some of the surprising items we found in the museum’s Medieval & Renaissance and British Sculpture galleries. The things that we found were type of messages from the past left by the people who worked in the museum […]

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The Early Music Movement and the V&A

Lute

In Britain the adoption of period instruments and historically informed practices (HIP) for the performance of ‘early music’ (generally understood to encompass music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods) dates to the 1970s, with some ensembles, such as the Deller Consort, blazing a trail earlier still. Looking through the concert files in the V&A […]

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Planning a Royal visit: traffic management and crowd control in 1899

Leaving Buckinham Palace

Traffic management and crowd control were uppermost on Sir John Donnelly’s mind when he sat down to dictate a memo to the Vice President of the Committee of Education on 20 April 1899. The foundation stone laying ceremony for the new museum buildings at South Kensington was only four weeks away and Donnelly was concerned […]

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