London, England A trip to London just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum. So many wonderful things to see, a great gift shop and a lovely café. A perfect trifecta for the art-engaged tourist.
We began with a museum tour, learning more about the creation and evolution of this wonderful citadel to design. It was the brainchild of Prince Albert, and his focus turned Britain’s mastery of the sciences and industry toward the development of competitive design strength. He was very far-sighted to have done that, and gave the arts real support. The building is massive and is really several buildings linked together, merging the Victorian with the contemporary.
Terra cotta and ceramic tile were favored for much of the decoration, as they were man-made, and showcased design as well as technical skills. They were used with spectacular effect in the three lovely tea rooms that serve as a welcome resting place after lots of art-gazing. In fact, the V&A has jokingly been called a museum attached to a café, the rooms being that extraordinary.
We had several hours of browsing through some of the Victorian plaster casts court, where wonderful copies of the classical world greeted us. Hello, David! Hello, Hadrian’s Column. We meet again.
A few Renaissance galleries also got a bit of our time before we met up with friends June and Alan, our faithful traveling companions.
Then it was upstairs to see an exhibition of the museum’s theatre collection. The current focus is on musical theatre, merged with the museum’s permanent collection of theatre costumes, memorabilia, and examples of stagecraft. A most entertaining walk through theatre history.
Don’s Food Corner
The original dining rooms of the V&A are indeed delightful spaces for dining. The cafeteria-style service and food, not so much. There are different locations for different things: Hot food in one place, cold sandwiches in another, hot drinks and cakes in yet another area and cold drinks in a further area. Then you need to carry all this to a central place to pay. Kind of exasperating.
But for the record: Jo had a tomato soup that she liked. She also had some of a meat lasagna that was hot, but perhaps had been sitting in the warming oven a little too long.
I had a “Mediterranean” wrap that had veggies and some hummus. It came with two salads, one with kale and chickpeas, another with pearl couscous and curried cauliflower. Very woke. I felt cleansed.
The afternoon tea with Earl Grey-infused scones and a very nice carrot cake was much more satisfying. They make great cakes in Britain. Maybe we should just go from one cream tea to another — with occasional breaks for fish-and-chips.