IM England Tour 2013: Victoria Albert Museum, Harrods


My earliest memory of visiting a museum involved a lot of the usual childlike wonder and

curiosity, coupled with some crying from getting lost and strategic coaxing on my part towards

the gift shop. I’m under the impression that museums are a lot like favorite restaurants.

Everyone has one and if you deny it you just haven’t found the perfect one yet. Traveling to

London offers numerous museums and special exhibits, but considering we had limited time

available we decided to visit the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, the

Victoria and Albert Museum or the V&A.

The museum is located in an area known as, “Albertopolis” named so because it

contains many landmarks that are associated with Prince Albert. The Albert Memorial, Royal

Albert hall, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum are also located near here.

Admission is free, though they do appreciate donations. Collections in the museum range from

thousands of years of art from medieval to the Renaissance to modern. The range of metalwork

and jewelry in the museum made for some very shiny rooms, and the special exhibit on fashion

made my mom nostalgic at her old fashion fads; I, on the other hand, mostly cringed. There

were pieces of ornately crafted furniture and the overall architecture of the museum was

astounding itself. There really is something for everyone in this museum and plan to spend at

least 2 to 3 hours, even though you could very easily spend much more. Though modern art has

a reputation for being a bit “eccentric,” I’m always a sucker towards these exhibits, especially

product design. I now know how it feels to have something you previously owned in a museum,

man I feel old seeing a CD player in a museum.

Seeing all those items made me feel a bit overwhelmed so I made sure to step out and

enjoy the John Madejski Garden. The garden features a large area in the middle for water

fountains and at night the planters and the fountain illuminate. Sometimes the gardens are

used as temporary exhibits for sculptures and in the summer the café opens a seating area

there. While you’re in the museum, make sure to visit the café because it’s a museum piece

itself. Even if you don’t feel like having a meal or some tea there, just drop in and see the

beautiful Victorian design of the café. The café spans three different rooms: the Gamble,

Poynter, and the Morris Room. My favorite was definitely the Gamble Room, with its spherical

light fixtures and tall windows. The interior almost made me forget how much I paid for a cold

museum sandwich.

Another interior that can sometimes make you forget about extravagant prices is

Harrod’s Department Store. It’s high end items make it kind of like Saks 5th

prettier). You definitely don’t need to buy anything, and I’m sure the shop keepers are well

aware of tourists just coming into the store to view the interior. There are multiple floors and

numerous rooms, but definitely take the time to check out the food halls, the Egyptian décor,

and the Diana and Dodi Memorials. I think my dad was a bit too taken in by the surroundings,

which caused him to almost make a very overpriced purchase. Apparently my dad hadn’t heard

correctly when the clerk, in his British accent, said the camera battery was £80, not £18.

Fortunately, the surprise came right before my dad signed on the dotted line of the receipt so

the crisis of the £80 camera battery was averted.

I know that there are many sites to see in a place like London, but take advantage of the

museums, especially the free ones. Unlike us, try and plan your visits and the exhibits you want

to see since that could save you a lot of time and fumbling around. The area near the museum

is a great walking area to other nearby locations, so feel free to just walk from place to place.

My brother is notorious for planning extreme walking (sprinting) escapades, so make sure to

read about my next adventure where we walk by the River Thames, people threaten to

overthrow my brother, and numerous cries of “are we there yet?!” all in the name of Chinese



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