London as a capital of the United Kingdom is a true cultural center with a large number of impressive and world-famous museums and other places worth visiting. In case you found yourself in London and you would like to learn more about the Islamic art, then there are two most distinguished places to visit: the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Wallace collection Museum.
The Victoria and Albert Museum history began in the 1830s and the main idea was to improve the poor quality and variety of the British applied art. This museum used to collect different objects that were used as models for the students, however, after some time this school devoted to the British applied art became very successful and was gradually transformed into a formal museum that was named after two distinguished personalities such as the reigning Queen Victoria and her husband Albert (Palace & Mosque: Islamic Art from the V&A Victoria and Albert Museum). The Victoria and Albert Museum made a large emphasis on the art of the Islamic Middle East as it was believed that it was a true example of high quality and professionalism in design and this sphere was of particular interest for Britain at that time. It took approximately 150 years in order to develop one of the greatest and largest collections devoted to the art of the Islamic Middle East in the whole world. Nowadays, this collection is reported to include more than 10,000 objects that belong to a large time period from the 8th till the 19th century (Museum with No Frontiers: Discover Islamic Art). Â This collection also covers the development of the Islamic art from Morocco to Central Asia and includes a great number of unique objects such as for instance â€œArdabil carpet from Iranâ€ or a â€œrock crystal ewer from Egyptâ€ that date to 11th and 16th centuries (Palace & Mosque: Islamic Art from the V&A Victoria and Albert Museum).Moreover, the collection of Islamic ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum is certainly outstanding. One more exceptional feature of this museum is its rich and unique collection of Islamic textiles.
Besides, one of the much-anticipated aspects about this museum is the opening of the redeveloped famous Islamic Middle East gallery that will be designed and structured in a more impressive way in order to make an emphasis on the visual qualities and peculiarities of Islamic art. Besides, visitors will certainly like this museum as it is possible not only to get acknowledged with the Islamic Art, but also learn more about the historical and social context of the objects that are presented in the collections (Room 42: Islamic Art). One of unique features of this museum is the usage of interactive educational aids that are certainly helpful for every visitor. The whole museum is thematically organized and it is possible to admire Islamic art by visiting a set of different thematic sections devoted to such historical periods as for instance â€œthe Ottoman empire and Safavid and Qajar Iranâ€ (Palace & Mosque: Islamic Art from the V&A Victoria and Albert Museum).
As for the Wallace Collection museum, it is also worth visiting due to its large number of world-famous art objects. As compared to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the time period covered by the Wallace Collection museum is certainly shorter, from the 15th to the 19th centuries (The Wallace Collection). This museum is famous particularly for its fine and decorative arts that are shown in 25 galleries. The Wallace Collection museum provides its visitors with a unique opportunity to admire the beauty of the Islamic patterns and the excellence of the geometric and calligraphic design created by this culture. The Wallace Collection is extremely popular for its rather extravagant but at the same time very accessible collections and galleries. The sword of the warrior-king Tipu Sultan is one of the most distinguishing art objects in this museum. This sword is of a great interest and importance due to its blade that has Tipu’s personal emblem. This emblem, a beautiful and somewhat puzzling gold tiger, is a true masterpiece, and many visitors of the Wallace Collection spend many hours observing it. The Wallace Collection museum offers its visitors a great variety of works of art including paintings, armour, ceramics, sculpture, and others. Moreover, this museum offers its visitors participate in special workshops, where they can make â€œtessellating patterns using a compass and watercolorsâ€ (The Wallace Collection). Such workshops shed more light onto the beauty and unique features of the Islamic culture and make an emphasis on the close relation between maths and art. As it is known repeating geometric patterns play a significant role in the Islamic art and this is the main secret of the excellence of its patterns.
As a conclusion it is important to state that both museums have a long history and each collection is perceived as a real masterpiece. Moreover, both museums pay attention to the educational aspect and there are interactive educational aids used in the Victoria and Albert Museum and exciting workshops organized in the Wallace Collection museum. However, in my opinion the Victoria and Albert Museum and the way it displayed Islamic Art is more effective. The museum covers a larger historical period, from the beginnings of Islam to recent time, as compared to the Wallace Collection museum and it is structured in a set of different thematic collections. Besides, this museum provides every visitor with a better understanding of the Islamic art and culture as it contains a great range of art objects including Ceramics, textiles, and the famous Islamic Middle East gallery.