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Traveler's Reports Our readers are invited to report on their interesting rug-related voyages here. No Marco Polo tall tales, please.

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Old May 19th, 2008, 02:23 PM   #1
Steve Price
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 99
Default Islamic Gallery, V & A, London

Hi People

This thread is a carryover from our former software package. it was started by Richard Farber. Here is a link to it:



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Old December 5th, 2008, 08:51 PM   #2
Louis Dubreuil
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1
Default disapointing V&A

V&A museum is presented as a great museum for decorative arts (4 millions objects, 10 km of galleries...)

I was in London last week for a touristic little trip. The V&A was one of the must see munument. The museum is very labyrinthic and it is easy to lost oneself in the dedal of the rooms and galleries (and the Minotorus can appear suddenly at a corner ....). So, it is not easy to reach the textile rooms.
When reached those rooms are very desapointing. The concept itself is not satisfying : half conservation rooms/half display rooms. The conservation of textiles need darkness and the display need some light. So the rooms are lightened by a very "niggardly" light provided by some scarce fluorescent tubes disposed on high level ceilings. The light mood is very very sad.

About the rugs : they hang from metallic supports, the sames than in mechanical rugs shops....With plastics on the top for avoiding dust deposures...Only the two rugs in front are visible. People is not allowed to tuch or to move the stands.

There is a poor balutch bag face in a frame at the rug room corner...

Glass cabinets display some exotic costumes in an other textile room, with problem of lighting and reflections.




In an other room archeologic textiles are displayed, always in the most sad way, with sad light and old fashion glass cabinets.


Some cabinets have inclined glasses at the top, covered with a "lovely" curtain that has to be moved to see what is behind. Other items are disposed in vertical slipping frames. if you want to see what is in the frames you have to pull each frame...

Those rooms could be a museum of the museography....

I can understand that this museum lacks of financial power for modernising the display of is overnumerous collection, but this situation is particularly harmfull in the case of textiles, and the ambiguity between conservation and public display is particularly obvious in the case of textile material. It is more simple for items like iron works or stone pieces.

It could be interesting to know the opinion on this subject from peoples involved in other textile museum (John for ex).

I have the knowledge of other french museum (Lyon textile museum, Quai Branly museum) on which the displaying of textiles is better made (with, for ex, a periodic turnover of the displayed textiles in order to avoid light damages).

I have had also some disapointment at the British Museum. There was a special thematic exhibition on traditional life, based on numerous tribal artifacts among which some beautifull tribal textiles. The consequence of the way chossed to display those items was some costumes was six meters above the ground... without any possibility to see any details.

From this point of view, my opinion, but I can be taxed to be too "chauvin" (and I do not not know american museums...), the Quai Branly museum has some advance in the possibilties to display very interesting tribal artifacts to very numerous peoples, in very comfortable conditions. V&A museum represents the old fashion way, with rooms reserved only to dusty gray scholars....


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Old April 27th, 2009, 05:48 PM   #3
Tim Hays
Posts: n/a
Default V&A Rug Collection Visit April 2009

I agree with all that Louis wrote in his December 2008 report on the rug and textile collection of the V&A. We have been trying to get a look at the rug collection for three years and finally were successful last Friday!

After repeated enquiries both on-line and in person we discovered that in order to see the rug collection one must write or email the V&A Islamic Arts Department at least 21 working days in advance. If staff are available and the room is open, one can obtain a viewing of the collection of Persian and Turkish rugs as shown in Louis' first two photos.

Showing the rugs requires two staff members-one to untie and pull the rug 'racks' from their closed position and one to hold and secure the individual racks in the open position. be sure to bring a flashlight as the lighting is poor at best. Although reduced lighting helps preserve the color of the rugs, it makes viewing them difficult.

The persian collection consists of 19th and early 20th Century work shop products most of which were acquired between 1870 and 1920. There is no catalog as such, only a typed listing of the rugs listed by acquisition number. The arrangement of rugs on the rack sequences does not seem to follow a comprehensible order. Although most of the pieces are in good to excellent condition there were few really outstanding pieces on display.

The "Turkish' rug collection consists mostly of Caucasian pieces from the pre-Soviet era. Some of these are very nice and seem to represent the Eastern and Western Caucasus traditions well. There were two quite good Talish long rugs of both the open and decorated field varieties. Turkish rugs per se were poorly represented, but there were some interesting old fragments from most of the traditional weaving areas. Basically there were few tribal items as the collection is focused on workshop and village pieces.

I don't have any photos to share because the viewing conditions were not conducive to the use of my aging digital camera. However, there is an excellent book on the V&A rug collection available from n-line sources, but alas not in the large V&A bookshop.

My understanding is that this book was compiled by the last curator of the collection who actually had expertise in the area of rugs and related textiles. The current staff, although helpful, don't claim much real rug expertise. I wish the V&A would simply photograph the collection, cross index it to the listing and publish as a CD/DVD or on line. There are nice items here, but they are displayed without context or attention to their cultural significance.

We saw only the rugs shown in the Louis' first two photos. The rugs and kilims on the other side of the room were not available to be shown. We spent two hours admiring the display and studying some pieces in detail, but came away somewhat unsatisfied.

We also had the opportunity to view some interesting rugs, tomb covers and tapestries from the time of Shah Abbas. They were part of a British Museum exhibit on Shah Abbas and the creation of modern Iran. These were all luxury pieces of silk and metallic thread construction and sourced to the Carpet Museum of Iran, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, and the rug collection in Milan. There was much to interest those with an interest in Islamic art generally and Persian art in particular.

A fine catalog of the exhibit is available in both hard and soft copy.

Regards from Berlin

Tim Hays
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:11 AM   #4
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Hey this is amazing!! I just want to go there after watching this, actually i am not to much interested in museums before but this is really cool man!!
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