Out of all the museums in the world…
I was shocked to hear that the Victoria & Albert Museum would ban sketching in one of its current exhibitions.
To give you a little background, the Museum was established in 1852, following the enormous success of the Great Exhibition the previous year. Its founding principle was to make works of art available to all, as well as educating working people and inspiring British designers and manufacturers.
I can remember as a young teenager, stepping into the grand entrance for the very first time, where Queen Victoria had laid the foundation stone back in 1899. Astounded by the Rotunda Chandelier that had not long since been installed, I couldn’t wait to explore the many treasures hidden inside the 21st Century Furniture section. I wouldn’t say I am someone who loves spending my time in museums; however, for me there’s something different about the V&A. Something much more than the objects and collections that sit within those walls. There’s an aura. A legacy. Something that’s hard to describe…
I have always admired the museum’s dedication to contemporary design, which has always been at the heart of the V&A’s work and supposedly remains true to its founding mission of promoting excellence in design and manufacturing. It is well known in our industry that the museum supports and encourages contemporary designers, acquiring work and hosting a smashing party during London’s Design Week- I’m not ashamed to admit sneaking past the guards to get a taste of the fine affair. (If anyone has any idea on how to get on the guest list please get in touch!)
Anyway, while visiting the recent exhibition, ‘Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear’, I noticed a sign reading ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY OR SKETCHING’.
Is this to avoid copying? Surely it cannot be to avoid too many people sketching – I can’t say that has ever been an issue.
In the words of my favorite artist, Mr. Dali…” Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating.” Even Picasso once said that ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal”.
It is natural for creatives to find intersections at the crossroads of ideas and combine them into something new or unique. I am all for originality but building on foundations of what I’ve already seen creates stronger and more successful ideas.
In music, take Andrew Lloyd Webber as an example. Some people argue that he is a fraud, taking inspiration from the greats such as Puccini, Ravel, Mendelssign and even Pink Floyd. But why complain? He’s created masterpieces that are loved and enjoyed by millions across the world.
In terms of design, I remember visiting a Deiter Rams exhibition and being astounded by the resemblance between his designs for Braun and some of the current Apple products at the time. But isn’t this just a form of evolution?
Whatever the excuse is for this disrespectful sign, I hope The V&A apologizes, and continues to nurture the next generation of creatives, as it has done and still continues to do for me.