Reason 1 This is the earliest of the great marble groups by Giambologna. Commissioned by Francesco de’ Medici in Florence, it was later presented to King Charles I in 1623.
Reason 2 Originally belonging to Consuelo Duchess of Manchester, this sunning tiara was inspired by the style of pre-revolution France.
Reason 3 The Portland Vase marks perhaps the greatest achievement by the English potter and manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood - a duplicate of a Roman cameo vase.
Reason 4 This UFO-like chair has a curious Cold War history: its West German manufacturer illicitly sold plastics technology to an East German factory. In return, the socialist factory produced about 14,000 of these chairs.
Reason 5 Husband and wife Libenský and Brychtová are two of the most important figures in modern glassmaking. This piece perfectly illustrates their pioneering technique of mould-melting.
Reason 6 Mentioned in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this 11-by-10 foot wide bed was originally made as a marketing ploy to attract travellers to one of the inns at Ware.
From 5 March 2012 the Great Bed begins its journey back to Ware. It is leaving the V&A on a year-long loan to the Ware Museum – the first time the Bed has ever been on loan to another venue.Read more.
Reason 7 This Buddha represents the Perfect One. An inscription on the base says that through seeing the image, the believer can also achieve enlightenment.
Reason 8 The Day Dream is one of the last major oils executed by Rossetti before his death. The model is Jane Morris, who at the time was involved in an illicit love affair with the painter.
Reason 9 Worn by Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones 1972 tour, and designed by Ossie Clark, this slim jumpsuit perfectly illustrates the fusion between fashion and pop.
Reason 10 This massive column is cast from an original made for the Roman emperor Trajen around 100 AD. It was made to celebrate his victory over the tribes of the Danube.
Reason 11 The engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel is here shown against the backdrop of the chains that were used to launch the ship he designed, at the time the largest ship afloat.
Reason 12 This jewel was given to Sir Thomas Heneage by Elizabeth I. The reverse of the jewel shows a ship holding steady on a stormy sea, symbolising the Protestant church steered by the Queen through religious turmoil.
Reason 13 This remarkable reconfigured chest of drawers was one of the most startling designs of the 1990s. Each drawer was salvaged from an existing piece of furniture.
Reason 14 The wooden model of a tiger attacking a European was made for Tipu Sultan. A mechanical organ inside the figure imitates the growling of the tiger, and the unfortunate man’s moan.
Reason 15 Commissioned as one of a pair, the Ardabil Carpet is one of the largest and finest carpets in existence. There 4914 knots in every 10sq centimetres.
Reason 16 This suit represents a new fashion in men’s wear, introduced by Charles II and inspired by Louis XIV of France.
Reason 17 The V&A has in its collection five of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, which reveal how the original Renaissance man thought. They contain some of his most complex and challenging designs.
Reason 18 Best know for creating settings which have a strong sculptural quality, set designer Ralph Koltai dates his interest in reflective material to this design for the National Theatre’s As You Like It.
Reason 19 This unique candlestick is a masterpiece of English metalwork. The dense decoration includes men and monsters in combat, illustrating the struggle between light and darkness.
Reason 20 William Morris famously said "have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or beautiful". The V&A has the largest collection of his work in the world.
10 WEEK SHORT COURSE: The playhouses came to London in the 16th century but it was after the restoration of Charles II that Drury Lane opened and the West End became the centre of the London theatrical world.