The Victoria & Albert Museum reopens on 19 May with three major exhibitions, new displays, and the transformed Raphael Court following a year of stop-start closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With over 200,000 objects, six floors and seven miles of gallery space, all of the museum’s collection galleries will once again accessible for the public to explore.
The reopening of the V&A will mark the unveiling of two major new exhibitions – Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, and Epic Iran – alongside the return of Bags: Inside Out, as well as the first time that the public will be able to visit the newly refurbished Raphael Court, home to the Raphael Cartoons.
Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 158 years, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will offer an immersive and mind-bending trip down the rabbit hole, exploring the cultural impact of Alice in Wonderland across film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography.
Epic Iran will transport visitors through time to explore over 5,000 years of culture through over 300 objects, telling the story of Iranian art and design from 3000 BC to the present day, providing an insight into a culture often seen through a different lens in the media.
After a short-lived opening back in December, Bags: Inside Out will also reopen on 19 May. From Winston Churchill’s dispatch box to celebrity ‘it’ handbags, Bags: Inside Out takes visitors through the style, craft and seduction of the ultimate accessory.
The Raphael Cartoons are among the greatest treasures of the Renaissance in the UK and are lent to the V&A from the Royal Collection by Her Majesty The Queen. The museum’s iconic Raphael Court has been reconceived to reveal the Cartoons’ extraordinary details and vibrant palette, which – together with a new interactive interpretation in the gallery – will transform the way museum visitors experience these monumental works of art.
A number of free-to-visit displays will also be available to discover. In our Painting Galleries, Renaissance Watercolours presents a series of rare gems from the museum’s collections to explore the pivotal role of this often under-appreciated art form. In our Theatre and Performance galleries, On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100 is ready to take visitors through a century of dance history from costumes and sets to performances and films. New display Katerina Jebb/Elizabeth Parker features a large-scale photomontage by Jebb, spotlighting a rare 19th-century sampler which narrates the hardships of its young female creator, Elizabeth Parker.
Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt said “We are delighted to be reopening the V&A with three spectacular new exhibitions. Only at the V&A can you explore the wonders of ancient Persia, jump down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, before swinging by a fashion paradise in Bags: Inside Out and finish your day in the Renaissance serenity of the Raphael Court – and that’s even before you discover our seven miles of permanent galleries. After many months of screen-time, our free galleries are ready for the public to enjoy, explore and question once again. The past year has been one of the most challenging that the museum has ever faced but our reopening programme captures the excitement and curiosity that the museum stands for. We have an abundance of space for social distancing and thousands of objects to inspire. Come and discover your V&A.”
A number of measures are in place across the V&A to ensure that the museum is a safe, relaxing and inspiring place for visitors, staff and volunteers. Free timed tickets to visit the museum’s collection galleries are released every two months and enable visitors to freely explore and discover the wonders of the V&A’s collection within a socially distanced environment.