011: Visit the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the V&A

the central courtyard

Just when I was thinking that a museum about the middle Ages was really missing in London, the V&A announced the opening of its new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. These brand new galleries opened on the 2nd of December – but I already wonder how the Victoria and Albert could pretend to be a comprehensive design museum without them.

Casket representing the assassination of Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170

To me, they totally fit in the V&A, and are like the rest of the museum: a motley collection of more or less fascinating and/ or beautiful objects. The new galleries feature artefacts representing the art and culture of Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to the modern times. They include statues, tapestries, altarpieces, ceramics, fountains, bits of church furniture, books…

Stained glass representing the temptation of the Christ by Satan

All these luxury objects – most of them are in enamel or gilded silver, while the tapestries and ceramics display rich colours – convey a feeling of wealth and sophistication, far from the general impression that medieval ages were a time of darkness. Although the overall is unequal and not always very didactic, there’s really something for everyone.

A notebook belonging to Da Vinci. The curators will turn the pages from time to time, to avoid deterioration

Nearest tube station: South Kensington

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