Soane bought three houses between 1792 and 1824 in succession in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and rebuilt them. Houses number 12 and 13 were made as his personal architectural laboratory and library and treated house number 14 as a separate dwelling.
The Museum was established during Soane's own lifetime by a private Act of Parliament in 1833, which took effect on Soane's death in 1837.
The current Director of the Museum is Tim Knox. William Palin, son of Michael Palin (member of the comedian group Monty Python), is the museum's assistant curator.
The V&A is the greatest museum of art and design, a world treasure house with collections of fabulous scope and diversity.
The V&A has around four million exhibits from all periods and areas of the world. Displays include sculpture, jewellery, enamels, silver, miniatures, water-colours, pottery, glass, furniture, weapons, musical instruments and costume. The 145 of galleries cover ten acres and are spread over four floors.
The six-storey Henry Cole Wing holds the V&A's collection of paintings, drawings and prints. In 2001 the restored British Galleries reopened to the public. These cover British art and design from 1500 - 1900 and include James II's wedding suit and the Great Bed of Ware.
The museum was established in 1852 as the South Kensington Museum, following the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Its first director was Sir Henry Cole, an utilitarian and joint organiser of the Great Exhibition who acquired some of the objects for the collection. Originally the museum contained both arts and sciences and was designed to inspire visitors with examples of achievement in both fields.
The building is Victorian and Edwardian. It covers 11 acres, has 145 galleries and a collection of 4 million items. The museum also runs the Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green; and the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden and used to run Apsley House.
Just ten minutes walking from Harrods, Knightsbridge and Hyde Park
The V&A is just a couple of minutes ride via Exhibition Road from the cycle paths in Hyde Park. Cycle racks are available on Cromwell Gardens immediately to the right of the Grand Entrance and there is a cloakroom just inside.
Five minutes from South Kensington Tube Station. South Kensington is on the Piccadilly, Circle and District Line, five minutes from Victoria, 10 minutes from the West End.
C1, 14, 74 and 414 stop outside the Cromwell Road entrance. The Open Tour stop outside the Museum as part of their Double Decker Bus site-seeing tour of London
Travelling by Road
By Road Cromwell Road is the main A4 route into London from the West Coach Parking. There is a coach drop-off point in Exhibition Road and outside the Museum on Cromwell Road. The nearest coach parks are located at Warwick Road, Bayswater Road and Park Lane
For cars, there are meters on Exhibition Road. Blue badge parking bays are directly outside the Exhibition Road entrance
Visit our shops for a huge range of books, stationery, gifts and jewellery.
Places to Eat
The V&A Café offers hot dishes, salads, sandwiches, pastries and cakes, as well as hot and cold drinks, wine and beer.
The V&A has a wide range of services for all types of group to ensure that your needs are met and your visit is as enjoyable and hassle free as possible.
The Museum has a wide range of services for disabled visitors including full access to all the galleries. For further details visit the Accessibility section. You can also call +44 (0)20 7942 2211, 9.00-17.30, seven days a week or textphone +44 (0)20 7942 2002.
Charles Ashbee, decanter, made by the Guild of Handicraft, about 1904-05. Museum no. M.121:1, 2-1966
The Victoria and Albert Museum has a wide range of services for all types of group to ensure that your needs are met and your visit is as enjoyable as possible.
You are welcome to guide your own group around the V&A, but to help us ensure that you get the most from your visit, please pre-book by calling the Bookings Office on +44 (0)20 7942 2211, 9.00-17.30, Monday - Saturday.
The V&A comprises the museum at South Kensington, the V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green, and the archives and stores at Blythe House, Kensington Olympia. All V&A museums are free entry.
V&A South Kensington
V&A South Kensington is the world's greatest museum of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Discover 3000 years' worth of amazing artefacts from many of the world's richest cultures including ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, jewellery, metalwork, photographs, sculpture and paintings.
The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is home to one of the world's largest and oldest collections of toys and childhood artefacts. The collection, which dates from the 16th century to the present day includes dolls, teddy bears, toy soldiers, train sets, model cars, puppets, rocking horses, costumes, board games, and some of the first jigsaw puzzles ever made.
Theatre Collections Online
The V&A's Theatre Collections have now moved from the Theatre Museum building in Covent Garden, and new theatre and performance galleries at South Kensington will open in 2009. Meanwhile, you can see new temporary theatre and performance displays at South Kensington and on tour nationally.
The V&A offers a range of dynamic programmes and resources to school students and teachers as well as FE and HE students and lecturers.
It provides a wealth of opportunities to stimulate learning across the curriculum. We offer online teachers' resources, a programme of professional development for teachers and free talks for school groups.
By tube It is within walking distance of South Kensington station on the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines
By bus Routes 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414 and C1 stop near it. Some tour buses also pass nearby .
By bicycle There are cycle parking facilities by the Cromwell Road entrance.
By coach Victoria Coach Station is within walking distance of Victoria train and tube station on the Circle or District lines. For groups travelling by coach, there is a coach drop-off point outside the Cromwell Road entrance
By car Driving to the Museum is not easy and parking is expensive, there is limited meter parking on Exhibition Road
Eating and shopping Most counters at our restaurants and cafés are accessible. Disability-aware staff are on hand to help. Find more information in Eating and drinking and Shops .
Sign language Some Museum staff offer signing and communication skills. Signed interpretation is an integral part of the Museum’s education programme.
Library and reading rooms In the Library, online images can be viewed with high-resolution monitors. A number of accessible reading rooms are available. Please ask staff for assistance. You can access the Library Catalogue using Jaws or Zoomtext software, installed on a computer in the General Library
The Central Hall is testament to the vision of the Museum’s founder, Richard Owen. Owen wanted the new Museum to be grand, fit for the status of Victorian Britain and spacious enough to display large mammals such as whales and elephants, as well as extinct monsters such as Diplodocus , a cast of which has stood in here for the past 100 years.
High above visitors to the Natural History Museum is an art exhibition, but one you could easily miss if you didn’t know it was there. Look up from the busy Central Hall in the heart of the Museum and you’ll find a wonderful spread of ceiling panels decorated with plants from every corner of the globe. Beautiful in design, richly coloured and gilded, each has a story .
The National Gallery Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DN
You can go by:
Bicycle, the nearest bike stands are at the back of the museum.
Rail, Charing Cross Station (nearest to the Getty Entrance).
Underground Charing Cross ,nearest to the Getty Entrance). Leicester Square, Northern and Piccadilly Lines (nearest to the Getty and Education Centre Entrances). Embankment, Northern, Bakerloo, District and Circle Lines (nearest to the Getty Entrance).
The National Gallery houses the national collection of Western European painting: over 2,300 pictures dating from 1250 onwards. The collection includes all the major European schools of painting and masterpieces by many great artists. Most of the paintings in the permanent collection are on Level 2. Remaining paintings are shown in Rooms A to G on Level 0 (Room A is always open on Wednesday afternoons).