Victoria & Albert Ceramics Galleries are open!

Italian pottery - Ceramic inkstand from Bologna or Ferrara (Italy) - made ca. 1480 to 1500 - Making of Ceramics gallery at Victoria & Albert Museum - Photo credits: Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonA major redevelopment of V&A Ceramics Galleries has been under way since 2005, with the ambitious objective to “create the most important national and international centre for the enjoyment, understanding and study of ceramics and a collection that is unrivalled anywhere in the world”, as reported by V&A’s website.

The galleries are located on the top floor of the museum, where a beautiful domed ceiling hosts an astounding site-specific installation made by the London-based ceramicist Edmund de Waal. Entitled ‘Signs and Wonders’, the art work consists of some 300 porcelain vessels on a ‘floating’ red shelf encircling the dome.

Phase-one of the refurbishment project has just been completed and 3000 objects from the earliest Chinese pottery to contemporary ceramic art are back on display, ready to tell significant ‘stories’ of ceramic history.

Faithful to the Museum objective,Italian pottery - Ceramic bowl from Castelli (Italy) - made ca. 1750-1760 - World of Ceramics gallery at Victoria & Albert Museum - Photo credits: Victoria and Albert Museum, London a new introductory gallery presents a History of World Ceramics with many of the V&A’s masterpieces, including a large collection of Italian Renaissance ceramics. The objects originate from the Far East, South East Asia, Middle East and Europe, spanning over 4000 years of ceramic history, from 2500 BC to the present day.
For the first time a juxtaposition of Asian and European ceramics explains their inseparable influence on each other. Appropriately, the objects are chronologically displayed, to help the visitor understand the interchange of taste, style and technology between the East and West and the connections between different cultures and periods.
The other galleries are devoted to a wide range of specific subjects.

A large space is devoted to the Making of Ceramics. Methods and techniques of pottery making are explained and a clay workshop is functioning, for an artist-in-residence to demonstrate how to turn raw clay into a large variety of wares. Master classes, demonstrations and practical sessions enable visitors to make, decorate and fire their own ceramics.

The Architectural Ceramics gallery contains a large selection of tiles and other dramatic large-scale ceramics from the 13th century BC to the present day, such as stoves from Northern Europe, panels from Portugal, the Netherlands and the Islamic world, and architectural sculptures from China.

Ceramic sculpture by Richard Slee (Professor, University of the Arts, London) - made 1983 - 20th Century Studio gallery at Victoria & Albert Museum - Photo credits: Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonIn the 20th Century Studio, experimental and avant garde objects trace the development of handmade pottery throughout the 20th century, when ceramics were granted the status of a art form in its’ own right.

Pottery from Europe, Asia and North America form the subject of the Contemporary Ceramics gallery, with objects from Europe, Asia and North America. Functional and decorative ceramics, large-scale sculptural work and specially commissioned, site-specific installations are on show, together with many of the Museum’s most recent acquisitions and donations by artists.

Factory Ceramics after 1900, in a separate gallery, shows the impact of mass produced pottery on modern dining habits and lifestyle.  Objects made by the leading designers and manufacturers of the 20th century, such as Wedgwood, Poole and Royal Copenhagen, are chronologically displayed.

Phase-two of the redevelopment plan is due to open in summer 2010. Four more galleries will be a study resource on British pottery, Chinese pottery, East Asian, Middle East and European pottery, featuring the rest of the V&A’s collection – around 26,000 pieces.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Ceramic Galleries

Cromwell Road
London SW7
Ph: +44 (0)20 7942 2000
Opening hours: 10.00 to 17.45 daily – 10.00 to 22.00 Fridays

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *