Victoria And Albert Museum

Key Structures

Video (no audio) showing the key structures of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Opening dates of the key structures

The South Kensington Museum which opened in 1857 and in 1899 became the Victoria and Albert Museum, developed over the years in a rather piecemeal fashion. The museum site is a confusing complex of buildings, however in summary the key structures and their opening dates are:

  • 1857 'Brompton Boilers' - transferred to Bethnal Green in 1866, now the frame of the Museum of Childhood
  • 1857 Sheepshanks Gallery – now part of the eastern side of the Quadrangle
  • 1862 North and South Courts
  • 1863 Residences - with galleries on the ground floor and staff apartments above, forming the western side of the Quadrangle
  • 1869 Central Lecture Theatre block – northern side of the Quadrangle
  • 1873 Architectural Courts, by Lieutenant-Colonel H.Y.D. Scott, built on part of site of the Brompton Boilers
  • 1874 Science Schools building
  • 1884 (National) Art Library wing – southern side of the Quadrangle
  • 1909 Aston Webb's completion of the museum, including the Cromwell Road front, and the screen along the Exhibition Road linking the museum to the Science Schools.

The decorative interior

In keeping with a museum for the decorative arts, the V&A has a very decorative interior with many well-known artists involved:

  • Owen Jones prepared schemes for the Indian and Oriental Galleries
  • Lord Leighton created two frescoes
  • William Morris, James Gamble and Edward Poynter designed the Refreshment Rooms
  • A lavish ceramic staircase was created by Frank Moody
  • Edward Poynter decorated the Lecture Theatre

Second World War

From above the V&A is an imposing structure, occupying a large area of central London. As such it was a target for the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. At the start of the war the museum closed, however, in a bid to boost public morale it reopened in 1940 with a limited display. It later suffered a blast to its west end, and the bomb damage to the Aston Webb's screen and Exhibition Road front has been deliberately left un-repaired in memoriam.