Saturday, July 17, 2010
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum first opened in 1852. The museum went through a few moves and finally rested in 1857 in its current location. The library's collection holds 2 million items, including 8,000 periodical titles. They use Horizon software and have all their items cataloged in the online catalog. The stacks are organized by size, rather than call number. The collection was deemed for educational purposes. In the 1970's, Art History became popular in the UK and gained a place within the museum's library. The library is the biggest department within the museum and they receive all incoming items to be cataloged. Their goal is more towards preservation, than conservation. There is no temperature control within the library. It is connected to the museum, rather than being in a separate location.
We also had a peek at some of their special collections. These items include Shakespeare's first folio, a 17th century Islamic binding, a proof copy of Dicken's Bleak House, and a monthly edition of Bleak House (which was sent from 1852-1853). We were unable to see DaVinci's real notebooks (they have 3 of the notebooks), but we were able to see a copy. The copy gave a pretty close idea of how the actual notebook would look, including the backwards writing style. The library also holds 75% of all English crests in their collection. The Islamic binding was very ornate, with a rich blue background, and garnishes covering the rest of the binding. Seeing Dicken's handwriting on his own work was an amazing sight!