To kick things off, I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum today, an Art and Design museum here in London (according to their website, "the world's greatest"). After a slight mishap in getting to the correct tube stop, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a tunnel connecting the South Kensington station to several museums, so if you follow the signs that say "Museums," you get taken right where you need to go. Phew. No further navigation needed. (I include this information only because I did not see it online when searching for directions to the museum).
|Classic Dior and Chanel, antique magenta hoop-skirted gowns, and rhinestone-bedecked accessories- SOLD!|
|Complimentary stools, interactive activities based on the exhibits, and signs letting you know when you can touch things- my kind of museum|
|Brightly colored modern designs in the gift shop, and a pair of £50 sewing shears I had to talk myself out of buying|
Overall I had a nice time at the museum- it definitely felt different than the Met in NYC or the Louvre in Paris. I found all sorts of little nooks and unexpected areas with interactive displays or videos that gave fun information about what you were seeing. There was an eclectic collection and display style that allowed you to be seeing a super modern Chihuly glass sculpture while standing in front of a centuries old church altar, or modern Harajuku Lolita fashions displayed alongside super traditional Japanese ceramics.
-FREE! And no guilt-inducing counter where they try to make you pay a "suggested donation" like the Met- you can walk right in and there are boxes you can put money in if you want to donate
-There seemed to be a real effort to make you feel at home and included in the museum- there were more than enough comfortable seats everywhere, there were plenty of places that encouraged you to interact and learn (good for kids!), study lounges, and the little stools were available for people wanting to sketch (which there seemed to be quite a few of).
-The gift shop, beyond just having the expected books, posters, and floral print scarves, had a lot of fun modern design items and cute prints (both framed and unframed- easy souvenir!)
-The displays were very eclectic- if you aren't necessarily a history or art buff, there is enough variety to keep you engaged
-The lighting in many areas was very dim- it didn't affect my enjoyment but it DID make photography difficult (hence my limited subject matter today). So if you are somebody that photographs everything, be forewarned, but I would recommend just using that as an opportunity to be in the moment and enjoy what you are seeing rather than trying to photograph it (do as I say, not as I do, hah)
-I found the museum difficult to navigate (however, I may just be directionally challenged)
Easy to get to, relatively central location, user-friendly amenities, and a wide range of displays make this a great stop for people that don't want to spend an entire vacation in museums but still want to enjoy a little bit of culture. While there is a lot to see, the free admission doesn't leave you feeling like you have to get your money's worth out of a visit if you find it's not your cup of tea.