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The V&A Museum

Hopefully you remember that when I went to Westminster Abbey I stopped off at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, also called the V&A.

In the past I've only stopped by the V&A very briefly, mainly while visiting the London Family History Center or visiting for a clue as part of a friend's scavenger hunt. I must admit that I wasn't fully prepared for how big it is, I normally go in via Exhibition Road but this time I went to the main front doors along Cromwell Gardens (I think that's the name of the road).

I took a right and came into a lovely large gallery with a high ceiling and a small fountain in the middle. The combination of the ceiling, the fountain and the gorgeous marble statuary scattered around made me feel as if I was in the garden of an Italian Rennaissance villa, it was a stunning effect and one that you really can't appreciate unless you visit. There's even two small balconies on the floor above, with the front covered with more marble carvings like a proper villa balcony.

After wandering around various other galleries, including one full of gorgeous Chinese artefacts and a Japanese one with some very pretty kimonos I stumbled across the central courtyard (also known as the John Madejski Garden) with a currently dry fountain in the middle. What I was most amazed by was the ornate brickwork and mosaics along wth tops of the windows. It's a hidden artwork in itself, from the outside of the building you picture the whole building as have a rather plain facade with bits of statuary here and there, but then you find this lovely red brickwork instead.

The door on the other side was carved with pictures of various leaders of various fields, and the top had this marble carving of two men with the words "Better it is to get wisdom than gold".

The leader in the field of sculpture is none other than Michael Angelo, and of course he had his own space on the door.

I only managed to get around half of the ground floor as my legs were very tired and refusing to carry me further, so once I went back inside I followed the final gallery down to the door at Exhibition Road and started to head home. But before I got to the station I paused to take one last photo of the monument that always strikes me whenever I visit this little corner of London.

Bomb damage. During the Second World War the V&A was hit by several bombs dropped by German planes. A lot of the various collections had been stored safely in various places around England, including some pieces stored in an underground station that the V&A shared with the British Museum. But two bombs exploded in Exhibition Road itself, causing a lot of damage to the facade of the building and destroying the glass roof. While the damage looks awful, and while the bombs themselves blew out all the windows and doors, the craters are not actually structurally unsound. At the time it was decided to not repair the damage since it was not actually harming the building, and after the war the damage was kept like this as a memorial.

In 1985 a carving was included further along the wall which reads; "The damage to these walls is the result of enemy bombing during the Blitz of the Second World War 1939 - 1945 and is left as a memorial to the enduring values of this great museum in a time of conflict". To me I like it because it's a reminder of what happened to London. Most of the city was repaired when the war was over, but occasionally you'll find things like that remind you of what the city went through. The V&A holds many beautiful artefacts from history, I find it very fitting that it also holds one of the ugly sides of history too.

Have a nice day everyone!


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