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Masterpieces of Ukiyo-e from the Victoria and Albert Museum

Masterpieces of Ukiyo-e from the Victoria and Albert Museum 

12 December 2008-15 March 2009
The V&A’s collection of Japanese ukiyo-e is one of the largest and finest in the world, with over 25,000 prints, paintings, drawings and books. It is not since The Floating World exhibition in 1973, however, that a substantial number have been on show at the Museum. This display reflected the strengths of the V&A’s outstanding collection, from elegant fan prints and glorious full-colour prints to artists’ sketches and copyists’ drawings that offered unique insights into the creation of ukiyo-e.

Magnificence of the Tsars

Magnificence of the Tsars

10 December 2008 - 29 March 2009
The grandeur of Imperial Russia was captured in this display of the dress and uniforms of Emperors and officials of the Russian court. Starting in the 1720s with the lavishly embroidered coats and elaborately patterned silk banyans from the wardrobe of Tsar Peter II, the display spanned a period of almost two centuries.



10 November 2008 - 8 November 2009
The metalwork collection includes fragments of objects. These are often beautiful, intriguing and revealing in their own right. On first seeing them, we often wonder what they are. By examining a detail we can understand more about the whole object, what it is made of, and how it was made. This display showcased fragments of objects and looked at how they were made.

The Olympic Stadium Project - Le Corbusier and Baghdad


9 October 2008 - 29 March 2009
This display examined one of the last projects by Le Corbusier, begun in 1957, his fascinating design for a sports stadium in Baghdad. With specially commissioned models, it gave a sense of what this marvellous structure would have looked like had the project come to fruition. The stadium was planned around a set of innovative radially arranged ribs or "voiles", the designs for 20 of which also featured in the display.

Le Corbusier regarded athletes as metaphors for modern man, and with Pierre Jeanneret he created an experimental design for a huge stadium for 100 000 people for athletic/cultural use. Le Corbusier referred to it as a "civic tool for a modern age."

Cold War Modern: Design 1945-70

Cold War Modern, Design 1945-70 

25 September 2008 – 11 January 2009
The period after the Second World War was one of anxiety and tension but also one of great optimism and unprecedented technological development. This exhibition examined how design was shaped by the cold war period against the backdrop of the battle between communism and capitalism, the advances of the space race, and the international competition to be modern.

Concentrating on the years from 1945 to 1970, the exhibition displayed objects from around the world including the USA, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Italy, France, East and West Germany, Cuba and the UK

The Booker 40 at the V&A

The Booker 40 at the V&A 

6 September 2008 - 17 May 2009
This display celebrated the 40th anniversary of the leading literary award, The Booker and Man Booker Prize. It presented winning and shortlisted books from the past forty years, alongside promotional material and the original Booker trophy, created by the artist Jan Pienkowski. It explored the practice of collecting Booker Prize books, featured signed limited first editions and proof copies from the collection of the literary agent and book collector Peter Straus. The display demonstrated how the design of book jackets has changed since the first prize was awarded in 1969 and included examples of bespoke bindings of shortlisted books created by members of one of the foremost societies devoted to the craft of fine bookbinding, the British Society of Designer Bookbinders.

Zen Calligraphy and Painting by Yamaoka Tesshu


3 September - 14 December 2008
This display marked the 120th anniversary of the death of the Japanese statesman and master swordsman Yamaoka Tesshu. It features twenty-two magnificent hanging scrolls from the collection of the late Professor Terayama Tanchu, founder of the Society for the Way of the Zen Brush (Hitsuzenkai). The display included works by Tesshu, his eminent contemporaries Takahashi Deishu (1835-1903) and Katsu Kaishu (1823-1899), as well as the late Professor Terayama Tanchu himself.

Beatrix Potter: The Art of Leaving Out

Beatrix Potter, The Art of Leaving Out

1 September 2008– 27 February 2009
This display explored Beatrix Potter's childhood love of Randolph Caldecott's picture books. Before Peter Rabbit was published she wanted to experiment with an illustrative technique Caldecott called 'the art of leaving out', the ability to create movement, humour and expression with a minimum of pen strokes. She later used this technique in The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908), republished in 1926 as The Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

Fashion V Sport

Fashion V Sport

5 August 2008 – 4 January 2009
Fashion V Sport, explored the relationship between contemporary fashion and global sportswear brands. Both industries have been inspired by street style and have been working in closer collaboration in recent years. On display were around 60 outfits including performance sportswear, work by fashion designers such as Stella McCartney who have designed sportswear ranges, and garments such as the work of Japanese label Visvim which showed the influence of sportswear on high fashion.

Image & Identity: Remembering Slavery; Exploring Freedom

Image & Identity, Remembering Slavery, Exploring Freedom

19 July – 9 November 2008
The Image & Identity project seeks to engage and inspire young people in responding creatively to museum collections through the visual arts. To mark the bicentennial of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the focus in the fifth year of the project was Remembering Slavery. Inspired by museum collections, young people explored the legacies of slavery and worked with artists to create their own responses to these ideas using painting, photography and sculpture and also the spoken word through poetry, drama, sound pieces and film.

The Poor Clare’s Reliquary


14 July 2008 – 30 September 2009
This display told the story of a precious vessel that has been lent to the V&A by the Monastery of Poor Clares in Hereford. We are still unearthing its exciting history and debating its changing use over time. Scholars are divided over whether it was made as a reliquary or a salt cellar. The marks on the vessel tell us that it was made in London in 1551, probably by the Royal Goldsmith Affabel Partridge, at a time when Catholics in England were being persecuted.

Cultural Connections: Africa


July 2008 - June 2009
This display presented a diverse group of objects with links to the African diaspora interpreted by an invited artist.

Maria Amidu is interested in the relationships between people and public collections. Here she reflected on the role museum curators play in determining what appears on display and how it is presented.

Poly & Chai: Yung Ho Chang in the Garden

Poly & Chai: Yung Ho Chang in the Garden

2 June - 1 September 2008
One of China’s leading architects - Yung Ho Chang - created a specially designed installation, Poly & Chai, in the V&A’s John Madejski Garden. Chang devised a set of free standing screens inspired by traditional Chinese garden design that were arranged around the space for visitors to walk through. The screens were made from green recyclable plastic paving blocks, commonly used in parking lots, driveways and construction sites all over China.

The Story of the Supremes from the Mary Wilson Collection


13 May - 19 October 2008
A display of performance costumes worn by The Supremes, one of the most successful groups of the sixties - only the Beatles had more number one hits. The display showed the changing image of The Supremes from the early days when they were known as The Primettes to the glamorous Hollywood designs they wore at the height of their fame, and looked at their continuing stylistic influence on performers such as Beyoncé.

Beatrix Potter: All the Little Side Shows


12 May - 31 August 2008
Beatrix Potter was the first fully to exploit the merchandise possibilities of fiction. Peter Rabbit became a popular culture phenomenon twenty-five years before Walt Disney conceived his screen icon, Mickey Mouse. Today, The Tale of Peter Rabbit remains one of the best-selling children's classics of all time and The World of Beatrix Potter™, initiated by Beatrix herself in 1903, is one of the world's largest international literature-based licensing programmes.

‘Most magnificent and generous’: Master Drawings, Watercolours and Prints from the Ionides Bequest

'Most magnificent and generous': Master drawings, watercolours and prints from the Ionides Bequest

10 May - 30 November 2008
In 1900 the Greek businessman and collector Constantine Alexander Ionides (1833-1900) bequeathed to the V&A nearly one hundred oil paintings as well as more than a thousand works on paper, normally held in the Prints and Drawings Study Room. This temporary display of his finest drawings, watercolours and prints revealed the full range of his taste and enthusiasm as a collector.

Libraries of Light: Photographic Books from the V&A Collection

Libaries of light, past display

24 April 2008 - 19 April 2009
Photographic books are almost as old as photography itself. This display featured highlights of historic, classic and contemporary photographic books from the Museum's library alongside prints from the photographs archive.

Blood on Paper: the Art of the Book

Blood on Paper, the Art of the Book 

15 April - 29 June 2008
At a time when the notion of the book is challenged by the advent of the screen and computer, this exhibition aimed to show the extraordinary ways in which the  book has been treated by leading artists of today and the recent past. Some were iconic works which established the genre of the livre d’artiste after the Second World War; others were surprises from artists best known for work in other media. Some works showed the virtuosity of traditional ‘hot metal’ printing techniques, others produced stunning large-scale installations and sculptures.

Seen together, these artists’ books showed a truly astonishing inventiveness, many on display to the public for the first time. Artists represented ranged from Matisse, Picasso and Braque to Anselm Kiefer, Anish Kapoor and Georg Baselitz.

Read more about artists' books

Certain Trees: the Constructed Book, Poem and Object, 1964-2008

Certain Trees, the Constructed Book, Poem and Object, 1964-2008 

1 April - 17 August 2008
This display of books, objects and constructions revealed an energetic community of poets and artists in Britain discovering and developing the expressive potential of publication as an art practice. The work of the 16 individuals represented was very diverse, however shared characteristics included brevity, a subtle sense of colour, wry humour, and an unpretentious relationship to art and literature of the past. Some of the works look like quite ordinary books, but their use of mainstream conventions is purposeful, questioning or amused. A poem is a kind of object, and the material character of a book may be its most important message.

'Seasons through the Looking Glass' Tunnel Installation

Seasons through the looking glass, tunnel installation 

28 March 2008 - 29 March 2009
Alice's adventures began when she fell into a tunnel that unexpectedly twisted downwards to form a deep well. She landed abruptly on a heap of sticks and dry leaves. This notion of mythical underground spaces was the subject of CJ Lim's installation, a multi-sensory and tactile intervention which explored the spatial possibilities of a subterranean garden.

Thomas Hope: Regency Designer

Thomas Hope, Regency Designer 

21 March - 22 June 2008
Thomas Hope's important role as an arbiter of design taste in the early 19th century was explored in this display. Regency furniture designer and collector of art and antiquities, Hope pioneered the Neo-Classical Style in England. His Household Furniture and Decoration (1807) was the style Bible par excellence.

Unseen Hands – 100 Years of Structural Engineering

Unseen Hands-100 Years of Structural Engineering 

17 March - 7 September 2008
Marking the centenary of the founding of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), this display celebrated the importance of engineering in creating some of the most iconic buildings of the past 100 years. The ambition and ingenuity of these structures was revealed through a variety of media - models, drawings, CAD imagery, video and photographs sourced from all over the world. The display was curated by architectural writer David Littlefield with the support of the IstructE.

China Design Now

China Design Now 

15 March – 13 July 2008
The V&A’s spring exhibition, China Design Now, explored the recent explosion of new design in China, from the 2008 Olympic stadium to the most interesting fashion and graphics.

The exhibition captured a dynamic phase as China opened up to global influences, and looked at developments in three rapidly expanding cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. It displayed the work of Chinese and international designers, focussing on architecture, fashion, youth culture and graphics as well as film, photography, product and furniture design and digital media.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Drawings by E.H. Shepard (1879–1976)

28 January - 8 September 2008
Winnie-the-Pooh, first published in 1926, is one of the most enduringly popular of children's books. A.A. Milne wrote Winnie-the-Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. The characters Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and baby Roo were all based on his son's toy animals. The setting was the real countryside and forest around Cotchford Farm in Sussex where Milne lived. The illustrator E. H. Shepard visited Milne at his home, walked in the forest to get the feel of the place, and sketched Christopher Robin and the toys. This display featured some of the original pencil drawings for the four classic books on which he had collaborated with Milne.

Collect 2008

Collect 2008 

25-29 January 2008
The fifth annual Collect, organised by the Crafts Council, is a unique opportunity to see a vast array of styles and schools of contemporary applied art under one roof.

Building on the success of the past four years, the international exhibiting galleries will present museum quality ceramics, glass, art, jewellery, silver, textiles, furniture and wood. The fair attracts collectors, curators and enthusiasts and is also a unique opportunity to see and collect the innovative and the desirable from contemporary masters to rising stars.

Beatrix Potter and Edward Lear

Beatrix Potter and Edward Lear 

14 January - 2 May 2008
From early childhood, Beatrix Potter was fascinated by Edward Lear's nonsense rhymes and limericks. Like Lear, she understood children's delight in the sounds and meanings of words. Her language is similarly rhymic and precise, and she, too, invented words and experimented with the limerick form. Both Potter and Lear often wrote with a particular child in mind. The two writers also both suffered periods of debilitating sickness, isolation and depression. To escape the constraints of polite society, they indulged their imaginations and revelled in rebellion and excess. This display of letters and illustrated manuscripts highlighted their similarities.

Curtis Moffat: Experimental Photography and Design, 1923–1935


No Date Given
Curtis Moffat created dynamic abstract photographs, innovative colour still-lives and some of the most glamorous society portraits of the early 20th century. He was also a pivotal figure in Modernist interior design.

Interactive Map

Discover the many treasures in the beautiful V&A galleries, find out where events are happening in the Museum or just check the location of the café, shops, lifts or toilets. Simple to use, the V&A interactive map works on all screen sizes, from your tablet or smartphone to your desktop at home.

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