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To visit the entire Victoria and Albert Museum with its collections on four floors and dozens of large halls, even a full day won't suffice; I suggest planning your itinerary well in advance, or going back more than once, considering that just like the other national museums in London, entry is free. So whether you've entered from the metro or one of the two street entrances, grab a map right away to understand the sections and floors of the museum and orient yourself in the ongoing reordering and refurbishment of the collections.

There are several specialized sections: musical instruments, ceramics, silver, textile artifacts, 1900s design, and even a small collection of 19th century and Impressionist paintings.

The East Asian section on the ground floor that's divided between China, Japan, Korea, and the Islamic world offers one of the most important collections of ancient rugs in the world. A lot of space is dedicated to India, which was a former colony of the British Empire; don't miss the wooden musical instrument called Tipu's Tiger that depicts an English soldier being mauled; it was made at the end of the 1700s for an Indian sultan.

On the second floor you can admire the history of English furnishings from the 1500s to the 1800s, with very curious furniture and fully reconstructed rooms.

But the main collections are on the first floor, which is dedicated to Medieval and Renaissance European art. The collections range from ancient ivory to German reliquaries, and from fifteenth-century majolica tiles up to Tuscan works. Michelangelo, Cellini, Luca della Robbia, Giambologna, Bernini, Canova... few other museums in the world have a collection of Italian sculpture of the same rank.

It might seem like a dream when you enter the two halls that group together all of history's most famous sculptures: don't be fooled, they're just copies!

The most important room of all is also on the first floor: it contains seven of the ten great original designs Raphael made for the tapestries of the Acts of the Apostles realized for the Sistine Chapel. The scene of The Miraculous Draught of Fishes is truly enchanting with its lake scenery full of birds and aquatic plants.


FUN FACT: the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is also nicknamed the V&A, is the largest museum of decorative arts and design in the world. Its permanent collection includes an amazing 4 and a half million pieces!


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