The museum was established in 1852 as the South Kensington Museum, following the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was renamed in 1899 in honour of Queen Victoria and her late consort Albert.
Recently controversy has surrounded the Museum's decision to go ahead with the building of an £80 million extension called The Spiral, designed by Daniel Libeskind, which has been criticised as out of keeping with the architecture of the original buildings. The Spiral's design is described by some as looking like jumbled cardboard boxes. Its exterior will consist of several interlocking planes, none of them horizontal or vertical. Construction has not yet begun.