The V&A Story

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This history of the V&A is a story like no other. From its early beginnings as a Museum of Manufactures in 1852, to the foundation stone laid by Queen Victoria in 1899, to today's state-of-the-art galleries, the Museum has constantly evolved in its collecting and public interpretation of art and design. Its collections span 5,000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium, housed in one of the finest groups of Victorian and modern buildings in Britain.

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Henry Cole, the V&A's first Director, declared that the Museum should be a "schoolroom for everyone". Its mission was to improve the standards of British industry by educating designers, manufacturers and consumers in art and science. Acquiring and displaying the best examples of art and design contributed to this mission, but the 'schoolroom' itself was also intended to demonstrate exemplary design and decoration. The story of the design and construction of the V&A's buildings, and of the personalities who guided this process, is one of persistent vision and ingenuity, amid the changing artistic, political and economic circumstances of the last 150 years.

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