Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum - Cromwell Road, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 29.770 W 000° 10.304
30U E 696316 N 5708796
Quick Description: This is the main entrance to the V&A museum from Cromwell Road. Although the wooden doors are well made and maintained the surrounding stonework, forming the arch over the doors, is superb.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 12/29/2011 8:54:44 AM
Waymark Code: WMDDDW
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member dejf75
Views: 13

Long Description:

Building first began on the site in 1836 with changes being made in 1856, 1862, 1863 and 1873. The current building was started in 1899 and its name was changed from the South Kensington Museum to the Albert and Victoria Museum, also known as the V&A.

At the entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum there are two stones with dates. One is for the start of the build and the other is for the completion. Both stones are identical apart from the inscriptions. The stones are red granite and there is one on either side of the doors.

The museum opening stone reads:
"This building, being the completion of the Victoria and Albert Museum, was opened by His Majesty Edward VII King of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the seas, Emperor of India; on the 26th day of June 1909, in the 9yh year of his reign".

The text for the cornerstone reads:
"This stone was laid by Her Majesty Queen Victoria Empress of India, on the 17th day of May 1899, in the 62nd tear of her reign, for the completion of the South Kensington Museum, inaugurated by His Royal Highness the Prince Consort, and henceforth to be known as the Victoria and Albert Museum."


"In May 1899, in what was to be her last public ceremony, Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for Aston Webb's new scheme. The occasion also marked the changing of the Museum's name to the 'Victoria and Albert Museum' (the queen had advocated the 'Albert Museum', but changed her mind at the request of the Duke of Devonshire). This stone-laying ceremony had been timed purely to fit in with the queen's schedule and in fact the building work only began in February 1900.

As the building slowly grew, its sheer scale became apparent. In its final form, the Museum's new Cromwell Road frontage was 219 metres long, and the one on Exhibition Road, 84 metres long. The galleries on the perimeter of the site combined with the long gallery running behind the front of the building were over one mile in length. In the first written guide to the Museum, Webb explained that the key benefit of his plan was that it enabled the visitor to orientate themselves inside the building and get a quick feel for the displays in each room.

Although changing fashions meant that the new scheme deliberately rejected Cole's belief in complex interior decoration, the building's stone frontage used a wealth of sculptural ornament to proclaim the importance of the Museum. Its climax was a statue of Queen Victoria in place of honour over the great arch of the main doorway, with Prince Albert below and Edward VII (who came to the throne in 1901) and Queen Alexandra in niches to either side of the entrance.

The 19th century fondness for displays of 'appropriate taste' was in full evidence in a sequence of single statues spaced out along the frontage. These represented ten English painters, ten English craftsmen, six English sculptors, and six English architects. One of the last things to be completed was the inscription round the main door arch, which was adapted from Sir Joshua Reynolds: 'The excellence of every art must consist in the complete accomplishment of its purpose'.

As the building neared completion, a 'Committee of Re-arrangement' looked at the question of how all the empty new galleries and courts should be filled. It was a chance to restate the Museum's purpose, which over the years had become increasingly uncertain. The Committee concluded that its chief aim should again be the improvement of the artistic quality of British design and production.

The work of the Committee also uncovered some worrying faults in the as yet still unopened building. There was too much gallery space in the form of courts, Webb's great North-West or Octagon Court was already a slightly redundant space, the Library blocked the connection between the eastern and western sections at the back of the Museum, and there was no direct communication between the eastern and western block of galleries on the first floor of the south front. According to the The Times, the problems were 'those of the department which failed to form a clear idea at the outset of what the functions and organisation of the Museum were to be and to instruct their architect accordingly'.

The Museum was also criticised for being too plainly decorated. Claude Phillips, Keeper of the Wallace Collection and the art critic of the Daily Telegraph, declared: 'The general impression [...] is that of some immense, finely-appointed modern hospital for the analysis and dissection of applied art rather than that of a temple of the higher delight.'

Despite this negativity in some quarters, the state opening of the finished Museum on 26 June 1909 (over 50 years since work had started on the first buildings on the site) revealed the new complex to be an astonishing achievement.
"

Source the
V&A web site.

Type of material of the door: Wood

Functional door?: Yes

Location of this door/way: On public property

Is it accessable only by paid admission": No

Style: Gothic

Address or physical location:
Cromwell Road London United Kingdom


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