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A Fairyland of Flowers: Beatrix Potter and Cicely Mary Barker

A Fairyland of Flowers, Beatrix Potter and Cicely Mary Baker

21 December 2009 – 14 June 2010
This small display featured illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker, often associated with Beatrix Potter due to her fascination with natural history and scientific observation.

Capturing the Imagination: British Fairy-tale Illustrations 1860-1940

Capturing the Imagination British Fairy-tale Illustrations 1860-1940

18 December 2009 - 12 June 2010
This display featured watercolours by artists of the Golden Age of illustration, including Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. It explores their imaginative responses to folk tales and fairyland.

Decode: Digital Design Sensations

Decode Digital Sensations 

8 December 2009 - 11 April 2010
Digitally growing plants and a mechanical eye that mirrored the blink of a visitor's gaze were among the digital works that featured in Decode: Digital Design Sensations. The exhibition showed the latest developments in digital and interactive design, from small screen based graphics to large-scale installations. Curated in collaboration with leading digital arts organisation onedotzero, there were works by established international artists and designers including Daniel Brown, Golan Levin and Daniel Rozin as well as emerging designers such as Troika and Simon Heijdens.

Digital Pioneers


7 December 2009 – 21 April 2010
This display provided an overview of the first decades of the computer's history in art and design. It included some of the earliest computer-generated works in the V&A's collections, many of which had never been exhibited in the UK before.

Design and Ornament in Renaissance Bindings

Design and Ornament in Renaissance Bindings

7 December 2009 – 13 March 2010
This small display featured a selection of Renaissance book bindings from about 1350–1550 from the National Art Library’s collections, highlighting major decorative designs and ornaments.

Making Glover

Making Glover 

30 November 2009 - March 2010
During 2008 new media artist Jo Lawrence spent six months as artist-in-residence at the V&A and found inspiration from the collection for her new animation, Glover, the story of a glovemaker who travels in his dreams to the edge of the world and encounters a series of 'glovebeasts'. This display explored the process of researching and making the animation.

Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts

Maharaja The Splendour of India's Royal Courts

10 October 2009 - 17 January 2010
The word 'maharaja' (literally 'great king') conjures up images of fantasy and spectacle. The heyday of the maharajas began in earnest after the collapse of the Mughal empire in the early 18th century. The exhibition opened with this period of chaos and adventure and closed at the end of British rule in 1947, when Indian princes acceded their territories into the modern states of India and Pakistan.

Art Matters: The Maharaja's Procession

Art Matters, The Maharaja's Procession

10 October 2009 - 10 January 2010
This display was part of Art Matters, a joint arts initiative between leading children's charity Action for Children and professional services firm Ernst & Young, and the V&A. Using the theme of Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts, sponsored by Ernst & Young, Action for Children groups from across the country took part in a series of artist-led workshops.

Stories for Humans: Contemporary Comics

Stories for Humans, Contemporary Comics 

1 October - 22 November 2009
This display presented the work of eleven internationally renowned contemporary comics artists from Europe, Iran, Japan and the USA, all with very different styles and techniques of execution.

Elegant Accomplishments: The Art of Noh Performance


7 September 2009 - 16 January 2011
This small display from the V&A's collection of superb No robes and masks, together with prints illustrating performance, was shown in the Museum's gallery dedicated to the arts of Japan.

'Gardens neatly razed': The Art of the Flopsy Bunnies

Gardens neatly razed, the art of the Flopsy Bunnies 

10 August - 17 December 2009
This display, celebrating the centenary of 'The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies' (1909), highlighted Beatrix Potter's use of real landscapes to establish a distinctive sense of place in her fiction.  Potter's book illustrations to the tale, on loan from the British Museum, featured alongside her background sketches of the garden of her uncle's house at Gwaynynog, Denbighshire - the inspiration for the setting of her story.

Faber and Faber: Eighty Years of Book Cover Design, 1929-2009

Faber and Faber, eighty years of book cover design

3 August - 6 December 2009
This display celebrated the 80th anniversary of Faber and Faber, one of the great remaining independent publishing houses in London. The books on display camefrom the Faber Archive Library.

Telling Tales

Telling Tales

14 July - 18 October 2009
At a time of heightened interest in works of so-called 'design art', made in small editions for the collector's market, Telling Tales featured work by a generation of internationally regarded designers. The exhibition focused on work by designers who explore the narrative potential of objects, connecting the past with the present. The exhibition was structured in three sections: In The Forest Glade - design that evokes the innocence of fairy-stories, The Enchanted Castle was inspired by the rise of the novel and prints in the 18th century and Heaven and Hell was informed by psycho-analysis and the work reflects anxieties about our mortality.

Watch a video about Telling Tales

Jameel Prize 2009

Jameel Prize 2009

8 July - 13 September 2009
Islamic craft and design are recognised the world over for their rich use of decorative pattern, technical innovation and artistic harmony. The Jameel Prize, awarded to a contemporary artist or designer for work inspired by Islamic traditions of craft and design, aims to raise awareness of the thriving interaction between contemporary practice and this rich artistic heritage, and to contribute to a broader debate about Islamic culture.

'All the better to see you with my dear': Fairy Tales & Enchantments

All the Better to See You with My Dear, Fairy Tales and Enchantments

2 July 2009 - 28 February 2010
This free display focused on a theme captivating to both children and adults alike: fairy tales. A selection of objects from around the world and across several centuries demonstrated the hold that fairy tales and magic have on our collective imaginations. The majority of these objects had not been displayed before and included both well-known subjects and those that were less familiar. The display provided an opportunity to explore both the origins of fairy tales, in folk lore and legend, and also the darker side to their purpose: cautionary advice and superstition.

V&A Illustration Awards 2009

V&A Illustration Awards 2009

9 June 2009 - 21 March 2010
The V&A Illustration Awards are held annually to highlight the best book and editorial illustration by UK artists published in the previous year. This display showcased many of the competition winners and entries.

Inspired By... 2009

Inspired by 2009...

9 May - 5 July 2009
Inspired by… is the V&A's annual art, craft and design competition for people on part-time adult education courses. Part-time adult learners were invited to create original works inspired by the collections and exhibitions of the V&A and the V&A Museum of Childhood. Entries were judged by the curators of the different mediums and by Museum educators.

Read more about Inspired by... 2009

Romilly Saumarez Smith: Bookbindings for Eileen Hogan

Romily Saumarez Smith, Book Bindings for Eileen Hogan 

2 May - 2 August 2009
This display showcased Romilly Saumarez Smith's bookbindings for painter  and founder of the Camberwell Press, Eileen Hogan. Having studied bookbinding and paper conservation at Camberwell School of Art and Crafts, Romilly Saumarez Smith went on to be the first woman to work as a forwarder at Zaehnsdorf's Bindery, and set up her own studio in 1979.  Due to her bold and innovative work as a binder, Saumarez Smith was invited by Hogan to bind selected Camberwell Press editions, as well as Hogan's earlier publications. The small display celebrated Saumarez Smith's talent for working in sympathy with the visual and the textual contents of fine press books.

Europe and the English Baroque

Europe and the English Baroque 

1 May - 9 November 2009
This display centred on the RIBA's recently acquired model of Nicholas Hawksmoor's baroque jewel Easton Neston (1694), and looked at how continental buildings influenced architecture in Britain between the Restoration in 1660 and the publication of the first volume of Colen Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus in 1715. The display contained architectural drawings by such luminaries as Christopher Wren and John Vanbrugh, taken partly from the RIBA's own collection and augmented by loans from a number of British institutions including the Queen's College, Oxford, King's College, Cambridge, Sir John Soane's Museum and other institutional and private collections.

The Photographers' Pilgrimage: Exploring Buddhist Sites in Asia

Photographers Pilgimage, Exploring Buddhist Sites in Asia

29 April - 21 June 2009
The beauty of Buddhist sites was revealed in this free display of sepia-toned photographs, capturing picturesque ruins in remote places and unusual aspects of familiar places.  The display uncovered some of the highlights of the V&A's collection, showcasing the work of the photographers Linneaus Tripe in Burma and Joseph Lawton in Sri Lanka. Also included were souvenir photographs of the Longmen caves in China and a hand-tinted image of the Golden pavilion (Kinkakuji) in Japan.

Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence

Baroque 1620-1800, Style in the Age of Magnificence 

4 April - 19 July 2009
The magnificence and splendour of Baroque, one of the most opulent styles of the 17th and 18th centuries, was be the subject of the V&A’s spring exhibition. The exhibition reflected the complexity and grandeur of the Baroque style, from the Rome of Borromini and Bernini to the magnificence of Louis XIV's Versailles and the lavishness of Baroque theatre and performance. On display were religious paintings by Rubens and Tiepolo while silver furniture, portraits, sculpture, a regal bed and court tapestries conjured up the rooms of a Baroque palace. The exhibition was the first to examine all the elements of the Baroque style and to show how, as European power spread, Baroque style reached other parts of the world, captured in objects such as a gilded Mexican altarpiece.

A Higher Ambition: Owen Jones (1809–74)

A Higher Ambition, Owen Jones (1809-74)

28 March – 22 November 2009
This display was the first ever monographic exhibition to look at the contribution of Owen Jones to architecture, design and colour theory and traced Owen Jones's unique contributions to Victorian design reform. From his early studies of Islamic decoration at the Alhambra Palace, through to his designs for the 1851 Great Exhibition building, the publication of the Grammar of Ornament (one of the most important design sourcebooks of all time) and his influence in the founding of the South Kensington Museum.

Capturing the Moment. Photographs by Reg Wilson

Capturing the Moment, Photographs by Reg Wilson

18 March 2009 - 10 January 2010
This display showcased images by Reg Wilson, one of Britain's most prolific performance photographers. From the 1960s he recorded four decades of the performing arts in all their richness and variety, capturing the great and the good on stage, backstage and in the studio. This selection from Wilson's archive, chosen by the artist, showed every aspect of the performance process from the studio to the finished product. It also demonstrated a range of techniques, from the staged photo-call to the snatched backstage shot and included some of the earliest stage photography and colour productions.

Contemporary Drawings

Contemporary Drawings

7 March – 30 July 2009
The V&A acquired an extensive group of contemporary drawings by artists who work across all the fine art disciplines: painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers and installation artists. The diverse drawings in this display ranged from the figurative, to the abstract, to the conceptual. What connected them was the versatile medium of drawing itself, the essential foundation of all art practice.

Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones


24 February - 31 May 2009

Working with radical hat designer, Stephen Jones, the V&A presented an ‘anthology of hats’. Drawn from V&A and international collections and ranging in style and period from a 17th-century Puritan’s hat to a 1950s Balenciaga couture piece to hats by Jones and his contemporaries including to the latest creations by young milliners such as Noel Stewart, the exhibition investigated the cultural and historic importance of millinery. The exhibition was arranged in four main themes - Inspiration looked at the myriad of sources including historicism, exoticism and the natural world; Creation explored the techniques, materials and processes; The Salon focused on the buying and selling of hats and the millinery shop; and The Clients which examined the wearing and etiquette of hats and featured headgear worn by well known clients of some of the world’s top milliners including Audrey Hepburn, Anna Piaggi, Dita von Teese.

Read more about Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones

Private Group Tours & Talks

We offer a wide range of tours to meet your group requirements. Whether a group has a special area of interest, wishes to explore a particular gallery or just get an overview of the Museum's collection the Groups Team can help.

View our Private Group Tours & Talks