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.

Exploring The V&A Story

Photo of Refreshment Rooms (Café)
Refreshment Rooms (Café)

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of V&A Exhibition Road Quarter
V&A Exhibition Road Quarter

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of Cast Courts (The Weston Cast Court, Room 46b)
Cast Courts (The Weston Cast Court, Room 46b)

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of The John Madejski Garden
The John Madejski Garden

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of Grand Entrance (Cromwell Road Entrance)
Grand Entrance (Cromwell Road Entrance)

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of South Court (Leighton, Room 102)
South Court (Leighton, Room 102)

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of Ceramic Staircase (Stairs 'I')
Ceramic Staircase (Stairs 'I')

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of 'Daylit Gallery' (The Simon Sainsbury Gallery, Room 64b)
'Daylit Gallery' (The Simon Sainsbury Gallery, Room 64b)

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Photo of The McAulay Gallery (Room 141)
The McAulay Gallery (Room 141)

photograph by Marcus Ginns, 2017

Learn more about The V&A Story