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New British Galleries at the V&A

The V&A's new British Galleries open at the end of November 2001. Located on two floors of the Museum, the new galleries will offer displays of the very best of historic British furniture, textiles, dress, ceramics, glass, jewellery, silver, prints, paintings and sculpture.

The galleries cover British art and design from the reign of Henry VIII to that of Queen Victoria. Every major name in the history of British design will be represented, including Grinling Gibbons, Robert Adam, William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as workshops and manufacturers, the Mortlake tapestry works, Spitalfields silks, and products from Wedgwood, Doulton and Liberty's. National treasures such as Henry VIII's writing desk, James II's wedding suit and the famous Great Bed of Ware will also be displayed. The new galleries will offer a chronological survey of the history of British design and will cover themes such as who led taste and the latest innovations of each period.

Education and the New British Galleries

The V&A is the only national museum to have been founded for educational purposes and the new British Galleries will be continuing this tradition. While there has always been a strong education programme, the Galleries will be the first major space within the V&A to have been designed with the learning needs of a wide variety of audiences in mind.

The V&A has introduced a series of videos, audio programmes and interactive activities into the Galleries to help visitors to look at the displays with greater understanding. Those who prefer to learn through experience will be able to handle pottery and fabric samples, assemble an eighteenth century chair or even try tapestry weaving. For those who want more information for study and personal interest, this will be available in a variety of formats from videos and audios through to databases and printed text. Provision has been made for people with visual and hearing impairments.

To complement this exciting development the V&A will be offering an extensive programme of events ranging from performances in the period rooms to demonstrations of gilding and carving. Back-Pack tours, a virtual residency, courses, conferences and practical workshops will be available to encourage people to follow up their interest in the new British Galleries.

Teachers will be able to access an online resource to help them plan class visits to the new British Galleries. This will include suggestions for activities based on the National Curriculum together with supporting historical and artistic information, downloadable worksheets and a forum for teachers to share their ideas on how to make best use of the galleries.

Lecture series

Another series of lectures is being planned for Autumn 2001 to accompany the third BBC History of Britain series presented by Simon Schama.