Friday, 1 August 2008

Tuesday, July 15: National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum

On today's trip the group visited the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum is located just South of Hyde Park. The class entered the museum through a tube tunnel that runs by the museum. The V&A has six levels with thousands of pieces of art from all around the world. Included in this collection are many manuscripts, prints, correspondance and books which the National Art Library is responsible. The library itself is comprised of three large reading rooms. The first is a public reading room, the second is dedicated to special collections, and the third is closed for rennovations. The library is a reference library and the safety of the collections is a priority. This is immediatley noticable upon entering the first reading room by the presence of a guard.

The class met our tour guide at the large entrance doors to the library. She walked us through to the special collections rooms and took us behind-the-scenes. We were able to walk through the various floors floors or bookstacks. The collection is constantly growing and the library has a large budget for acquistions. Some of the more famous pieces in the collection include Charles Dickens personal letters, Beatrix Potter, and Leonardo Da Vinci's note books.

The second half of the tour took place across the facility in another bookstack. The class was presented with about 20 different pieces in the library's collection. Each book or print was different from the next and was representative of the diversity of the library's collection. Some of the items displayed for us included an elevator design book, books of art, and a first print edited by Dickens.

I found this library to have a very diverse collection. I have never before seen such a wide variety of books.

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