The V&A

I was struck by Tristram Hunt’s good and interesting choice of objects from the V&A, but even more by his singularly apposite quote from Henry Cole that unvisited museums ‘dwindle into very sleepy and useless institutions’ and wondered about the circumstances which led to Cole saying this. The answer is that the quotation comes from Henry Cole’s first big speech at the newly opened Museum of Manufactures in Marlborough House on 24 November 1852 and published the following year in his Addresses of the Superintendents of the Department of Practical Art, delivered in the Theatre at Marlborough House, p.32 (I owe this information, as I’m sure Tristram Hunt did too, to Anthony Burton’s brilliant and invaluable history of the V&A).


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