Bejewelled Treasures : The Al Thani Collection @ V&A

29 03 2016

While in London I visited a favourite museum, the Victoria and Albert.

I was quite excited about seeing the exhibition ‘Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection‘; I had booked my ticket many many months ago.

at the V&A

at the V&A

I went through it in less than 15 minutes.
It was overwhelming in the unfortunate way.

Too much ‘bling’. Too gaudy.
Someone else said it was too vulgar (so British).

It was basically a show of large stones put in, sometimes admittedly beautiful, metal settings.

It was just hit after hit; dazzling in the unpleasant way of feeling like you’ve been through a hurricane or repeatedly dumped in the surf (so Australian).

exhibition media; click on image for original source

exhibition media; click on image for original source

And the exhibition design … when are curators going to tire of the ‘dark room with bright cabinet lighting’ trope?

I’ve said it before, this ‘jewel box’ exhibition design – where the only lighting is bright and on the objects, with the floor/walls/ceiling painted black – is exhausting and disorienting (not to mention headache-inducing).

I was so sadly disappointed. I have no idea how you could make this a more visitor-friendly exhibition … but it would have been lovely to see some of the objects in natural light and displayed against the kind of textiles they would have been worn on/with.

Lastly though: look closely at the first photograph above. The exhibition conditions included no photographs (understandable) and no sketching. The latter is quite unusual from my experience. And disappointing too – for I do like to sketch objects I’m not allowed to photograph (in pencil of course), for it allows time and room for a connection with the object.

Happily though, the remainder of the museum is still a total delight to visit.



%d bloggers like this: