Sunday, August 06, 2006


A childhood – possibly teenaged – visit to South Kensington’s Victoria and Albert Museum had always stuck in my mind for the wrong reasons. Frankly, I found the place dull and uninspiring, full of pointless costumes and objets that held no appeal. A second trip, avec famille, last Friday blew my prejudices and simmering distrust of the place out of the water. Obviously, the institution has been revamped in the two decades or so since I last strolled through its corridors but it proved a fabulous collection of too many beautiful and fascinating pieces to mention and I am unable to sing its praises loudly enough. The new Islamic Art wing is stunning, the Asian artefacts are wondrous while the statues simply took the breath away. And the John Madjedski Garden (pictured) is a fabulous oasis of calm and beauty in the centre of the city. I’ll visit again and spend more time. An edgy part of me thinks that the V & A may have been rather splendid on my previous visit and that it is me that has changed the most.

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