[Victoria and Albert Museum]





A magnificent and ground-breaking exhibition uncovering the riches of the V&A and looking at the Museum's past, present and future will go on show on 14 October 1999 celebrating the centenary of the re-naming of the Museum by Queen Victoria.

Exploring the political, social and artistic forces that have helped shape the V&A from its radical beginnings in 1852 to its familiar status as one of the world's greatest museums of art and design, this thought-provoking exhibition investigates the ever changing perception of the role of museums, at a time when their very nature is a subject of lively debate.

Established a year after the Great Exhibition in 1851, the V&A introduced the revolutionary concept that Museums should inspire designers and manufacturers and make examples of artistic excellence available to a wide audience, effectively establishing the decorative arts as a subject in its own right.
Featuring over 250 exceptional works of art including, Leonardo da Vinci's notebook from the "Codex Forster", a magnificent jade horse head from the Han Dynasty to a richly embroidered evening dress by Christian Lacroix, the exhibition reveals the V&A's rich and diverse collections.


A Grand Design is themed in seven sections and explores:

  • The Exhibition Ideal: the museum as spectacle
  • Teaching by Example: the museum as educator
    An Encyclopaedia of Treasures: the museum as treasure house
  • The Empire of Things: the museum as imperial archive
  • The Idea of Englishness: the museum as guardian of the national heritage
  • Collecting in the 20th century: the museum as contemporary showcase
  • The Museum in the New Millennium, an impressionistic vision of the future of visual culture.



The exhibition organised jointly by the V&A and The Baltimore Museum of Art opened in Baltimore in 1997. A Grand Design has toured the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and will return to the V&A for the Museum's centenary celebrations in October 1999.



6 &7 November 1999 (10.30-17.00)
What's the Object? Museums of Applied Art Re-Appraised

Distinguished speakers will reassess some of the formative influences on applied art museums in the past; and consider how such museums' survival in the future will depend on the audience they can attract.
Both days will end with an open discussion session chaired by David McFadden, President of the International Committee of Applied Art (ICAA).


[Victoria and Albert Museum]