The wealthy London borough of Kensington is home to "museum row". The Natural History Museum (which I blogged about recently), its twin the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum (the V&A) all sit beside one another to form a marching-band of culture and learning.
The genesis of the V&A was the Great Exhibition of 1851 - a colossal cultural show famous for many reasons including the building in which it was housed. The first Director of the V&A helped to plan the Exhibition and the purchase of some of the show's artifacts formed the nucleus of the collection. From its outset the museum was egalitarian in its approach - it introduced gas lighting to allow evening openings as these were the hours that were "most convenient to the working classes".
The museum moved locations several times until it arrived at the site on Brompton Row in 1857. The building was expanded progressively over the years as courts and wings were added. The architecture is in many ways hybrid with Romanesque, Classical and late Gothic features. I do not like it quite as much as the Natural History Museum, but nonetheless it's an imipressive monument to design and culture.