The new Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Tristram Hunt, describes his appointment as "a dream come true" and rightly so.
The V&A contains the stuff of legend, quite literally, and Tristram joined avid fan of the museum, Ryan Tubridy, to spill the beans on working in the majestic and iconic environment.
"We are a museum of art, design and performance with seventeen national collections. We have incredible fashion galleries, we have ceramics galleries, we have silver galleries, we have galleries of British art in which there’s quite a lot of Irish art as well. We have an incredible South Asian collections, we’ve metal work, we’ve iron work. At the heart of the museum we have this rather extraordinary place called the Cast Courts, because in the mid 19th century, they were making plaster cast copies of great things like Michelangelo’s David or Trajan’s Column in Rome because they wanted working people to be able to see them for themselves without having to travel."
This aspect is an important part of the ethos of the museum and an aspect that Tristram is very proud of.
"The V&A was always this very democratic institution. It wanted to teach the people of Victorian Britain to think about art and design, that they could become great artists and designers of the future, so you wanted to be inspired by the greatest works of predominantly western civilization."
Another element that Tristram finds exciting is branching out and reaching new audiences through eclectic exhibitions on such topics as Pink Floyd, Balenciaga ball gowns and David Bowie.
"To be frank, white men in their 50’s from non-metropolitan areas, getting them into the V&A is a challenge and then we had these wonderful emails saying, I came to see Pink Floyd and then I wandered into this gallery and that gallery and I saw that and I’ll come back, so I’m a big fan of those exhibitions that speak to a different part of the UK, will make them think about the V&A and bring them in."
Our Christmas tree is now up! 🎄— V&A (@V_and_A) November 28, 2017
The Singing Tree is designed by @EsDevlinOK and conceived specially for the V&A.
Visit us to sparkle your Christmas days and add your own word to the tree: https://t.co/9clDv1eU4f#SoundsLikeChristmas pic.twitter.com/KtSQf2lNG8
Until earlier this year, Tristram served as Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central, but he says his change of pace was timely given the current direction of British politics. He read in the Sunday Times that the previous Director of the V&A was stepping down and says, "suddenly this light came on. I thought, God, wouldn’t it be amazing to run that totally fabulous museum?" and after a long application process, his wish came true.