Victoria and Albert Museum

The V&A is a great place to go if you’re after inspiration or simply planning a fun day out. Built with funds from the Great Exhibition of 1851 and originally only intended to be temporary, the V&A is now the world's greatest museum of art and design with treasures from 2000 years of decorative arts on show.

The collections and exhibitions cover everything from high art to pop culture so there’s something for everyone, whether you want to see classical sculpture or memorabilia from popular musicals. There are four floors of exhibits and they cover ten acres, so it’s easy to spend a whole day here. The vast Medieval and Renaissance Galleries are like a museum within a museum and contain paintings, architecture, and the best collection of Italian sculpture outside Italy. The paintings collection has illustrations, watercolours, and over 2,000 oil paintings from Britain and Europe.

If fashion is more your thing, head for room 40 where there are 400 years of European couture and jewellery on display. Among the permanent collections you’ll find temporary exhibitions that in the past have showcased designers and fashion icons including Versace, Kylie Minogue and Grace Kelly, or looked into fashion future with cutting-edge exhibits from fashion schools. Fashionistas might also take an interest in the museums textiles collection, which has beautiful examples of silks, lace, and embroideries, both historical and modern.

For those who love prints, books and comics, there’s the famous prints and books collection, which has over 500,000 objects including fine art and commercial art from the renaissance to the present day. The museum also has a great collection of architectural drawings and photographs, and even whole rooms and parts of buildings. The glass building that houses the museum itself, which still stands although it was originally only designed to be temporary, is a great example of London’s Victorian architecture.

If you’re looking for things to do with the kids then it’s worth checking the museum’s family events calendar as they often put on children’s activities. If the weather is nice there’s also a lovely courtyard garden with a pool which is great for kids to paddle in.

Shopping at the V&A

And don't forget Shopping at the V&A - the shop and bookshop are destinations in their own right. Having worked with Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Jones, Erdem, Roja Dove, and Yohji Yamamoto in recent years, the museum is renowned for stocking the latest and best in jewellery, ceramics, fashion and designer collaborations.

Likewise, the V&A Bookshop is devoted to books covering all aspects of the designed world, including publishing its own press. It is a go-to for fashion specialists, students and fans alike.

Don't forget, visiting the museum is free, although donations are encouraged an all retail profits are also convenanted back to the museum. For opening hours, directions and other visitors’ information, please see the V&A’s website.