Spent the morning catching up on coursework before heading to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. Always a favorite of mine, this museum has only gotten better in the years since my last visit. The beautiful interior courtyard now boasts several shallow pools which attract many families with small children who like to splash and wade around them on a sunny day.
We were met by Jen Reeves, a librarian who specializes in Collection Development and Acquisitions for the V & A library. She took us on a wonderful tour of this closed access library, showing us both the public spaces and those areas off limits to everyone but the staff (and a lucky bunch of future librarians!). The focus of this library is art and design and accordingly the V & A has an amazing collection of books and journals relating to this topic. The library also treats books as "museum objects" and maintains an international focus with a specific interest on collecting within the European sphere. It was interesting to note the collection of sales catalogs from auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's. Ms. Reeves indicated that these generate great interest and are often used by collectors and other interested parties in determining provenance and prices previously fetched at auction. The collection contains over 2 million items and is, in the words of Ms. Reeves, "growing daily".
After our tour we were greeted by Ms. Bernadette Archer who shared with us a number of rare and even priceless objects from the Special Collections of the V & A. She spoke briefly about the treasures that lay before us and then allowed us a closer look at what lay before. The goodies included a poem by Keats written in his own hand, a proof copy of Dickens's Bleak House with correction and annotations in his hand, an armorial book featuring a fine leather binding tooled in gold, and a collection of letters written by Charles I written in his hand and addressed to his nephew.
It amazes me that in just the space of a few days I have been lucky enough to see three First Folios ! We have been a fortunate group of students and are all especially appreciative for these wonderful opportunities.
The day ended with a yummy meal along the banks of the Thames and the Queens' Walk. We were able to miss the showers both coming and going and it was agreed that a great day was had by all!