HNW - London: V&A
nscamp at heartbytes.net
Sat Mar 10 10:30:20 PST 2001
>I'm off for a first-time visit to London soon. I have one day set aside
>to go to the V&A. Anything in particular I should be sure not to miss?
I have been to the V&A twice. The last visit was in 1996. I spent the
better part of two days there just in the needlework and textile area. Much
of the needlework and textile items are in large frames that you can take
down and carry to the work tables to examine and photograph (by the way,
had I known that I could take photos I would have needed more time). It is
great being able to get so close and really examine the pieces but it is
time consuming, just the taking down and putting back up of the frames (not
to mention tiring on the arms and back as they are rather large).
I spent a small amount of time with the clothing collection in 1996 because
I did that area extensively in 1986 on my first visit. At that time ('86)
the textiles and needlework were mostly under lock and key and you had to
make appointments to see the pieces. Thankfully that has now changed.
I also spent some time in 1996 in the bookstore. They have wonderful books
and are well worth the money for the photography.
I cannot speak for any other areas of the V&A as I have never had time for
any other exploring. The V&A is on the web, you might want to check it
out. When I was there in '96 they were doing a wonderful special exhibit on
William Morris. I bought the exhibit catalog and used my micro cassette
recorder along with a sketch pad to fill in areas specific to my interests.
The recorder was invaluable as I found that I could verbally describe
things faster than I could write. When there are many people trying to see
the items it is sometimes difficult to spend a lot of time at very close
range so the recorder right next to your mouth (thus you don't have to
speak loudly and disturb others) works very well. When I was making my
notes into the recorder I made sure that I noted information about the
piece e.g. exhibit number, title etc. so that when I was transcribing my
notes when I returned home I could link up my notes with the exhibit
catalog. Therefore it is really an extension of the catalog, tailored to
you special interests in the exhibit.
I hope this helps some. I guess the bottom line here is that there is
probably not enough time ever to do the V&A justice but I recommend that
you spend all the time you can spare there. I would also recommend that you
check them out on the web, see what exhibits will be there when you visit.
That way you can do as much homework as possible before you go and maybe
save yourself some valuable time.
Good luck and enjoy. It is truly a wonderful experience!
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