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Revisiting The V&A

Since this is not the first time I’ve spent any length of time in London I’m enjoying the slower pace of visiting places. It’s not really a s-l-o-w pace, but it’s not tip he frenetic pace of someone who’s never been there before nor likely ever come again, we will always come back. If for nothing else, the tea from Fortnum & Mason is worth the trek.

The nice part of this trip is also the sharing of a city and it’s treats with my girl. A lot of kids would rather eat broccoli than hit a museum – B-O-R-I-N-G! AEB is pretty good with a museum. She’s a girl that loves to read and she loves to figure out how things work, and she has an appreciation of beauty that sometimes leaves me in awe. So, it was off to the V&A to meet up with friends who live up north.

The V&A, as most museums are, is a feast for the eyes! It’s always nice to revisit a well loved museum since the exhibits change around the exhibits that you can count on time-and-time again. AEB was not interested in seeing statues. She stated very clearly to the group that she did not wish to see statues because the ones missing arms or heads “freak her out”. So, we skipped the statues. And as much as I would have liked to go through the statues I didn’t mind, because I’ll come back. As transient as life is, I think I’ll be back, I’m not really worried about missing the things that I might have enjoyed this time. We went up to the silver! The V&A has done a very nice job of creating spaces for children to explore areas. In the Silver exhibition area you not only had fabulous silverware and other items made of silver, but you had hands-on spaces where you could handle a silver tankard, make an impression on a metal disc, do a rubbing of an engraving for old type moulds, and windows with inquiry flaps to lift and find the answers to questions posed by the museum. Just the sort of things our girl likes best! We enjoyed it, too.

Then it was on to the theatre exhibit. My favourite, but others found it interesting as well. The costumes on display were incredible: items from “The Lion King”, “The Importance of Being Earnest”, “Henry V” and so on. Worn by the likes of Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Burton and so on. They have an area where you can try on costumes. AEB wasn’t interested in trying on anything, but I did. The costumes on hand for the hands-on are all costumes donated by theatres in the area that have donated them to the museum and not just costumes made for the museum. That’s pretty wonderful! Then the set design area had the set models from various productions over the ages on display. Then you could go and create your own set design with large plastic slides fitted into open slots with a light on to show you how your design would look. Again, really great hands-on stuff! On to the lighting displays where you could push the preset light board lights to see how lighting works with the set design – how it all works together to create a production. There were hats, too! Oh my word, the work of the haberdasher. There was a hat worn my Dane Edna of the Sydney Opera House. And then there are the masks. Anyone out there a theatre major/minor? The masks from the production of “The Oresteia” (1981) are there, the ones that grace the cover of theatre books, at least I have one at home that has the chorus on the cover. I like that part of museums, recognising things from textbooks along the road – from high school history texts to theatre textbooks to graduate school anthologies. It’s great to see something in person that I’ve seen in a textbook as an example of whatever topic I’m reading about.

Mr. Toad’s washer woman costume
Grimaldi the clown
Maggie Smith’s Lady Bracknell’s costume
Sweeney Todd: lighting design display


masks from “The Oresteia”


Dame Edna Everage’s hat!
The cafĂ© had nice food. Better than one might expect and not too terrible in pricing. But one doesn’t typically go to a museum to partake of the food.

We ended the time at the V&A with a trip up to the 6th floor to see the furniture – the evolution of the chair. A. was fascinated with reading about the various material used to create furniture: cedar, metal, mother-of-pearl, ivory, etc.

There was much left behind not seen, but then – we’ll be back to enjoy other parts at another time!