The People’s Palace

CoverThe Victoria and Albert Museum is my favourite place in the whole wide world, at least the admittedly limited parts of the world I have seen. When I win Lotto (note to self – start buying a ticket) I am going to hole up in a bedsit in South Kensington and go to the V&A every day until I’ve seen every single thing I want to see. And I’m going to eat lunch in the Green Dining Room. It may take me the rest of my life and use up all my winnings but that’s O.K.

Until the golden day when the balls fall in my favour I’ll have to make do with wonderful books like V & A The Victoria and Albert Museum. This is the story of how the Museum began as a government initiative to improve design in Britain. Things had come to such a pretty pass in 1837 that Henry Cole, the first man appointed to run the V & A, instituted a ‘Chamber of Horrors’ to demonstrate why some designs are good and some are bad.

A convolvulus gas jet is pictured as a ‘horror’, exhibited with the caption ‘gas flaming from the petal of a convolvulus! – one of a class of ornaments very popular but entirely indefensible in principle’. I personally find it rather attractive but that just goes to show why I need educating, which can be done by all the books the museum publishes; lace, jewels, cutlery! Almost as good as being there, if not as good as winning Lotto.