Victorian exhibit at the V&A

It was interesting to learn about the Victorian era from the V&A because the British exhibits don’t isolate the 1800s. They have information and extracts from society starting as early as the medieval ages and so you really get to see the Victorian period in the context of the times that surround it. These British Studies rooms are amazing because as you walk through them you can actually see the culture metamorphosize around you.
This was especially true with their room reconstructions. As you walked through you went from dark wood paneling of the Medieval ages, to light walls and molding in the Georgian times, and then the unique Victorian style that drew from all of these traditions but had some new features.The most surprising thing I learned from the gallery was how un-British the Victorian time was as far as decorating is concerned. Because of all the colonizing they were involved in, they became fascinated with the culture of these new lands and looked to them for new ideas in design. Because of this there were new colors and patterns that in many cases were very randomly matched together.
It also put into perspective how superfluous the developing Victorian practices were. The different sets of clothes for every activity–its a wonder people didn’t waste their days changing their clothes, or maybe they did. After seeing their closets in comparison with those from earlier times, I can really understand Wilde’s inspiration. And really all of our Victorian author’s inspiration reacting against the strict societal rules that everyone secretly broke. It was an age of culture, but also an age where there were major social issues that were finally being addressed.

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