Museums are a wonderful place to spend one’s time, especially ones that cater to your passions and interests. They have the ability to send you time-traveling into the past and let you become a part of a world we only now know through the exploration of ancient art, culture, science, and history.
For anyone who has a career, hobby, or passion in interior design, I highly recommend losing yourself in the Victoria and Albert Museum (VAM) in London. As the largest decorative arts museum in the world, with beautifully designed exhibitions showcasing ancient to present-day art, there is no place so stunning, intriguing, nor exhilarating.
Featuring fine art paintings, photos, theater collectibles, textiles, fashion, jewelry, architecture, sculptures, and ceramics, you will find yourself in amazement of the innovators who’ve lived before us- which is a miraculous and humbling feeling.
Here are a few of the exhibitions I find myself most absorbed by:
Although all the exhibitions change quite regularly, what I have found truly mesmerizing about the fashion exhibit is the celebration of the top trends through history, culture, and designers. What intrigues me most about the history of fashion is the similarity it has to interior design. Different interior design trends differ from culture to culture, change through time, and old looks are often re-birthed as a new, popular look - just like the fashion industry.
When learning about the history of jewelry, it doesn't take long to realize how interesting this ancient ritual really is. Jewelry can signify spirituality, religion, ethnicity, social status, as well as one’s emotional state. These representative works of art, which many of us take pride in wearing, have been around for thousands and thousands of years. And, as being a part of our ancestors most prized rituals it offers us a glimpse into past materials and how different populations designed and valued human embellishment.
Metalworking is also another ancient practice that is fascinating to see. These intricately detailed handmade works of art show an intrinsic desire to push boundaries and explore our natural surrounding elements. Once designed for weaponry, bartering, and religious purposes, an aesthetic value soon followed due to the progress of civilization and appreciation for nature’s beauty. As many interiors are now reflecting a more natural aesthetic, it’s wonderful to see some of the first “rustic” design features.
For any interior designer, the textile exhibition is the heaven of all heavens. Upon entering, I feel as though I am experiencing a small portion of what might have been one of man’s most beautiful creations - the Silk Route. The intricate prints and bold colors emblazoned upon the gorgeous rugs, tapestries, and curtains share a cross-cultural story. From Eastern China to the Mediterranean, naturally woven fabrics were created to adorn our bodies and homes, sold to lovers of beauty, and made to distinguish cultural trends, art, and experiences. As someone who seeks out rich, hand-made textiles, this exhibition is quite inspiring and stimulating to the interior designer and artist inside of me.
Museums offer a wonderful interpretation of societal beauty and progression. Not only is it interesting to see how art was created and styled in the past, but there is also a sense of “history repeating itself” as trends re-emerge in a new light using new techniques. We are always looking to improve our artistic skills and leave an imprint on the world - providing the generations after us with something to reflect and learn from - and by taking the time to experience the past, we are giving ourselves the chance to bring change to the future.