Sunday, July 18, 2010

The National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum - July 15

The National Art Library at the V&A Museum is a closed-stack public reference library that caters to academics, as well as the casual art lover. The Library was founded in 1837 to support the School of Design. It was later merged with the Victoria and Albert Museum and has grown to include over 1 million items. The collection includes: books, exhibition catalogues, auction sale catalogues, periodicals, archives, and Manuscripts.

Because the Library is constantly struggling for space, they have utilized a shelving system that maximizes the available space, by grouping items by size. For this reason it is very possible for a book on modern art to be shelved next to volume on Egyptian sarcophagi.

The highlight of the visit had to be the selection of materials that were pulled for us to view. Among the treasures was a first folio of Shakespeare from 1623 and a complete collection of Charles Dickens' Bleak House in the original monthly editions.

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