The Grade I listed building was established soon after the Great Exhibition of 1851, initially as the South Kensington Museum. Its British Galleries house over 3,000 pieces of fine and decorative art.
The galleries were in need of modernisation and revitalisation; the aim of the project was to redisplay the V&A’s significant British collections in a new, more accessible setting and to open them up to a wider audience.
Telling the story of the transformation of British art from 1500-1900, the galleries are arranged into three chronological periods: Tudor and Stuart, Hanoverian and Victorian. They consider historical impacts such as wars, empire, religion and the industrial revolution, as well as emphasising the international relevance of these important collections.
The British Galleries draw on objects from across the V&A, including ceramics, glass, furniture, metalwork and textiles as well as books, sculpture, prints, paintings and drawings.
The new galleries house the collections in a total area of 4,600 sq m, a 25% increase in display space. They offer a mix of traditional labelling and printed material as well as interpretation through video, audio and interactives, opening up the V&A's treasures for generations to come.