Victoria and Albert Museum
Other names: South Kensington Museum (1857-99), Museum of Manufactures (1852-7)
Foundation date: 1852
Active: 1852 -
Function: Art gallery and museum
History or description: 'The Museum was established in 1852, following the enormous success of the Great Exhibition the previous year. Its founding principle was to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Profits from the Exhibition were used to establish the Museum of Manufactures, as it was initially known, and exhibits were purchased to form the basis of its collections.
The Museum moved to its present site in 1857 and was renamed the South Kensington Museum. Its collections expanded rapidly as it set out to acquire the best examples of metalwork, furniture, textiles and all other forms of decorative art from all periods. It also acquired fine art - paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture - in order to tell a more complete history of art and design.
Generous funding and a less competitive art market than today's meant that the young Museum was able to make many very important acquisitions. The Museum itself also grew, with new buildings being added as and when needed. Many of these buildings, with their iron frames and glass roofs, were intended to be semi-permanent exhibition halls, but they have all survived and are one of the finest groups of Victorian buildings in Britain.
In 1899, Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of a new building designed to give the Museum a grand façade and main entrance. To mark the occasion, it was renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum, in memory of the enthusiastic support Prince Albert had given to its foundation.'
Quoted from the Victoria and Albert Museum website: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/periods_styles/features/history/brief_history/index.html (accessed 27 August 2010)
Dates are usually the year a work was exhibited so may differ from date of production.
New entries have been made each time a work was exhibited due to a lack of evidence about the state, medium or edition shown.
Loaned Black Head
2010 - 2011
Own Decorative spoon depicting Apollo dancing
Museum number: A.97-1936 see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O347700/spoon-spoon-apollo-dancing/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own Decorative spoon depicting a man in combat with a dragon
Museum number: A.96-1936 see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O347701/spoon/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own Decorative spoon depicting a naked woman standing between two scrolled arabesques
Museum number: A.95-1936 see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O347702/spoon/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own Decorative spoon depicting a depicting a winged man with dragon
Museum number: A.94-1936 see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O347703/spoon/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own Decorative spoon depicting Europa and the bull
Museum number: A.93-1936 see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O347704/spoon/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own Medal commemorating the 700th Anniversary of the Foundation of Liverpool
Museum number: A.1-1918. See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O311762/medal/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own Medal of David Roberts
Museum number: A.10-1970. See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O311873/medal-david-robertsmoorish-david-roberts/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own The Worship of the Golden Calf
Museum number: A.11-2005.
Own Festival of Britain medal
Museum number: A.95-1980. See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O111669/medal-the-festival-of-britain/ (accessed 31 August 2010)
Own Medal awarded to Fred Fitzroy
Museum number: M.45-1999. See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O25288/medal/ (accessed 31 August 2010)
Own Medal commemorating the Great Exhibition of 1851
Museum number: CIRC.811-1969. See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O347125/medal-medal/ (accessed 31 August 2010)
Own Crystal Palace
Museum number: A.40-1978. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O111683/medal-crystal-palace/ (accessed 31 August 2010)
Own The Milton Vase
A cast of this vase is in the V&A. Museum number: 7229-1860 See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O71922/vase-subjects-from-miltons-paradise-lost/
Own Relief of St. George and the Dragon
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O187916/relief/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Own The Genius of Painting
Museum number A.4-1991. See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O40992/statuette-the-genius-of-painting/
Own Queen of Dreams
Museum number: A.5-2009. See http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1136044/statuette-the-queen-of-dreams/ (accessed 29 August 2010)
Exhibitions, Courses, Meetings and other Events
Institutional and Business Connections
Associated with The Glasgow School of Art: Lending Museum Scheme
The Board of the V & A made arrangements for issuing a certain number of examples of decorative art, with a view to their sub-circulation for the Glasgow School of Art and its affliated institions.
Collaborated with Midlands Museum of Art
1872 - 1878
South Kensington Museum, London, leant works for display at the Midlands Musuem of Art, Nottingham.
Collaborated with Royal Society of Arts
1916 - 1924
Hudson and Luckhurst note that 'when the Bord of Education decided to suspend the "National Competition", the Society arranged competitions in collaboration with the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, until 1924, when they were merged in the Society's own competition'. See 'The Royal Society of Arts', (1954), p. 278.
Directors included Henry Cole
1856 - 1873
Directors included Cecil Harcourt-Smith
1909 - 1924
Employed Richard Perry Bedford
1903 - 1946
Technical Assistant from 1903; Keeper, Dept of Sculpture, 1924-38, Dept of Circulation, 1938-46; Curator of Pictures, Ministry of Works, 1947-48.
Employees included Richard Redgrave
Redgrave was a co-director with Henry Cole and, amongst other achievements, designed the innovative art gallery to house John Sheepshanks's extensive collection of British art, given to the state in 1857
Employees included John Charles Robinson
1852 (Circa) - 1867
Initially curator of the Museum of Ornamental Art at Marlborough House and then of the South Kensington Museum when it relocated in 1857, from 1863 he was entitled 'Art Referee'
Employees included Martin Hardie
1898 - 1935
Joined as a librarian in 1898, became keeper of the combined departments of painting, and of engraving, illustration, and design, 1921-35
Employees included Eric William Dalrymple Maclagen
1905 - 1945 (Circa)
Department of textiles 1905-7, then moved to the department of Architecture and Sculpture, rising to keeper of 1908-24, then director of the museum from 1924-45
Represented Thomas Nichols
The museum acquired two works by Nichol from the Society of Arts Art-Workmanship Competitions in 1864 and 1867: Clytie (museum object number: 39-1865) and Virgin and child (museum object number: 857-1868)
Represented by Robert Jackson
The Museum acquired a marble statue of 'The Hon. Francis Henry Campbell' by Jackson in 1969 (Museum number: A.191-1969)
Worked with Balcarres (also Earl of Crawford and Balcarres)
1896 - 1899
Balcarres used his position as MP to criticize the administration of the South Kensington Museum beginning in 1896. Partly as a result of his interventions the House of Commons reorganized the museum into the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899 (opened 1909).
Royal Society of British Sculptors. Minutes of Council Meetings No. 1, 1905-1913
19 May 1913
6 January 1908.
Citing this record
'Victoria and Albert Museum', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/organization.php?id=msib6_1222353054, accessed 29 Sep 2016]