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Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A) is on Cromwell Road in Kensington, West London. It specialises in applied and decorative arts.

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.

The building is Victorian and Edwardian. It covers 11 acres, has 145 galleries and a collection of 4 million items. Entrance has been free since November 22, 2001.

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.

The museum also runs Apsley House; the Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green; and the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden.

The museum is close to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The closest London Underground station is South Kensington.

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