Open daily 10:00 to 17:45 Admission free Menu
walter_leo_hildeburgh_1000px.jpg
Dr Walter Leo Hildburgh (1876 - 1955), nicknamed ‘The Egg’, was an American art collector who gave or bequeathed over 5,000 gifts to the V&A.

Dr Walter Leo Hildburgh was born in New York in 1876. After obtaining a PhD from Columbia University he worked in scientific research. A man of independent means, however, he pursued a range of interests: he became an international figure-skater (known as ‘The Egg’ on account of his premature baldness), was an excellent swimmer, and studied folklore (he became a member of the Folklore Society in 1906), anthropology, and magic. In 1912 Hildburgh settled in London and became a frequent visitor to the Victoria and Albert Museum. His gifts to the Museum over the years (including his bequest) amounted to over 5,000 objects, mostly to the Metalwork and Sculpture departments. On the occasion of his seventieth birthday in 1946, Hildburgh presented to the Museum 300 examples of English alabasters. Hildburgh was elected to the fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries in 1915, and was awarded a D.Litt in the History of Art from the University of London in 1937. He died in London in 1955, aged 79. An exhibition of objects given by Hildburgh opened in 1958.


Information in the V&A Archive

MA/1/H1954: Nominal file – Dr W. L. Hildburgh

A0454: correspondence, research notes, photographs, publications, typescript drafts and mss of publication relating to English alabasters and alabaster carvings (1936-1955)

Selected printed works

English alabasters: from the Hildburgh collection. London: HMSO, 1956). NAL pressmark: VA.1956.Box.0009

Oakes, Catherine.Dr Hildburgh and the English medieval alabaster.’ In Journal of the History of Collections 18, no.1 (2006): 71-83: NAL pressmark: PP.69.E

To locate material in the National Art Library, please search the Library Catalogue

Shop online

V&A Pattern: Walter Crane

V&A Pattern: Walter Crane

Beautiful and practical, the booksare visual summaries of the most sumptuous parts of the V&A collections'Royal Academy MagazineThis attractive series…

Buy now

What is Luxury?

25 April – 27 September 2015. What is Luxury? interrogates ideas of luxury today, addressing how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.

VIsit the V&A exhibition What is Luxury?

Event - Behind the Cupboard Door at the Royal School of Needlework - Tour 1

Wed 15 July 2015 14:00–16:30

This special visit, led by the chief executive who is also the curator and archivist, will open the doors to this fascinating archive and conclude with a tour of the 2015 exhibition of whitework from the Royal School of Needlework collection.

Book online