Appropriate to our company name, your THATMuse Rep will be standing at a bust of a ‘Muse’. Upon entering from the main Cromwell Road entrance, we’ll be directly to the left of the revolving doors (marked as Stairwell A on V&A maps of the ‘Grand Entrance’). Your THATMuse Rep will have a white canvas THATMuse tote.
Freshly charged batteries in your phones/cameras (per team) & comfy shoes.
Your THATMuse Mission
Photo your team in front of as many pieces of Treasure as possible within the given amount of time (90 mins to 2 hrs.) With each treasure photo you’ll earn 20 game points (about 500 game points), however, with careful reading you could pick more than 1000 bonus THATMuse points. There are several ways to do this. Our bonus questions fall into three key categories:
– Scrutiny (looking more carefully at the piece or surrounding rooms) – Silliness (willing to trot like a Tang horse for bonus points?) – Knowledge (All of these questions can be answered within another piece of treasure text, within the hunt)
There are also a variety of more artistic challenges & Letter Scrambles spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text, worth 100 bonus THATMuse points! We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)
Teams must stay together, must not run, jump, shout & no no NO touching anything
No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or V&A staff you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling the Japanese, no GPS-ing the Fashion Dept, or using anything other than your hunt & map… No phoning your Sinologist Aunt for help, either!
Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography.
Must meet back at starting point at the agreed time. Each minute late merits 5 negative points, per minute (!!) There are sometimes strategical reasons to be late, but attention: if you’re more than 10 mins late, you’re ousted!
Quite a bit has happened to the Victoria & Albert Museum in its 165 year history – heists, bombings, construction and moments of brilliance. These posts are based off our #THATMuseFacts on Twitter – because a tweet sometimes isn’t enough! If you like learning about funny, interesting or just plain bizarre facts about some of Europe’s coolest museums, follow @THAT_Muse_ on Twitter and look for our quarterly “Top 10” posts like this one about the British Museum, Louvre and Musée d’Orsay!
1) In 1913, the V&A considered banning women because it feared militant suffragettes would vandalize the museum. After Mary Richardson took an axe to Velazquez’s The Toilet of Venus in the National Gallery, alarm spread through London’s museums and galleries. The suffragettes’ actions actually contributed to the V&A’s decision to do away with admission fees in 1914, reasoning that an increase in the number of visitors would act as extra security against possible attacks.
2) A V&A custodian named John Andrew Nevin was arrested and found guilty of stealing thousands of objects from the V&A in the 1950s.
Some of his loot included diamonds belonging to Catherine the Great, swords and Chinese jade, which he smuggled out by stuffing them down his trouser legs. When asked for an explanation, Nevin said, “I couldn’t help myself. I was attracted by the beauty.” In total, Nevin stole 2,068 items from the museum – the largest ever theft in terms of quantity from a British museum (not the BM!). (Read more here!)
3) The oldest photograph of London, probably taken in 1839, is housed in the V&A.
A man named Monsieur de St Croix took the photo from Trafalgar Square, looking down Parliament Street. It is actually a daguerreotype, so the picture is on a silvered copper plate. It is very detailed; if you look closely, you can see a statue of King Charles I and people who stayed still long enough to be in the photograph. The process of daguerreotypy was invented in Paris but quickly brought to London.
4) Two dogs—Tycho and Jim – are buried in the V&A’s John Madejski garden.
Jim, a Yorkshire terrier, belonged to Sir Henry Cole, the V&A’s first director. Cole would often take Jim to work at the museum with him and loved him dearly enough to have an enamel model made of the scruffy little dog. Tycho belonged to Cole’s son, Alan. And yes, this is a bonus question for some of our THATMuse V&A hunts, sending teams to find the plaques directly to the right, if entering the beloved garden courtyard from the V&A’s cafe entrance.
5) Aside from being the V&A’s first director and an exuberant dog lover, Henry Cole is also credited with inventing the Christmas card in 1843 (see below).
He commissioned a designer and a printer to create over a thousand cards that could then be personalized and sent to friends. Cole also made enough to sell, but they were expensive and deemed a commercial flop. But when Dicken’s novel “A Christmas Carol” was published, Christmas cards caught on. Yes, this trivia is in our Festivities hunt at the V&A — glad you read this post? (Read more here!)
6) The V&A was the first museum to create a public restaurant, which was originally called the “Refreshment Rooms.”
Henry Cole (he sure pops up a lot, doesn’t he?) managed the Great Exhibition in 1851 and saw that many visitors there enjoyed having a hot meal or tea while going about the exhibits. He brought the idea back when the V&A was opened so that guests could have a similar experience. However, the restaurant was described as “hideously ugly” and the original structure – which clashed horribly with the museum itself – was demolished 11 years after it was built.
7) The tallest object in the V&A is a plaster cast of Trajan’s Column, which stands 35.6 meters high!
In fact, it is displayed as two separate towers because it is too tall to fit inside the gallery. The Cast Court (including Trajan’s Column,) was installed in the V&A to allow people too poor to travel see culturally important works of art.
8) The Great Bed of Ware (which comes up in our “Festive Feasting” treasure hunt!) is, arguably, Britain’s most famous bed.
It is over three metres wide and, according tolegend, can hold at least four couples. The bed was famous enough in its day that Shakespeare referenced it in his play Twelfth Night, and 14th century tourists came from all over to lay eyes on it. Evidence of their visits can be seen via the carved initials and wax seals on the bedposts and headboard.
9) Horses and carts take up a lot of space – which the V&A learned when packages and post were delivered to the V&A and the horse did not have enough room to maneuver and get back to the street.
To deal with this issue, the V&A built a large turn-table – the horse just had to stand there and the floor beneath it would just rotate! Talk about inventive.
10) If you’re standing in front of the V&A, look up – you’ll see a large, imposing statue standing atop the building’s central tower.
This figure is Fame – and she’s not as scary as she looks, especially since she’s missing her nose!
THATKid Tuesday is a monthly dose of Art History for kids, running the 1st Tuesday of each month. In this series we’ll be blogging about different terms from the THATKid glossary we’ve created to help kids understand some of the art history terms that pop up in our hunts.
This time we’re going to look at Predella!
Predella, an Italian word, is the name given to the decorative panel below a painting or carving. Often this was used to tell the life story of a main character in several different scenes. A good example is this cast of The Adoration of the Magi, which is in the Victoria & Albert Museum (and also a THATMuse treasure!).
If you look closely you can see the figures underneath the large scene; these form the Predella. This predella shows the Virgin Mary, St John the Evangelist and a host of saints and angels mourning the dead Christ. The images displayed in the predella were often a form of continuous narrative.
It’s not just on altarpieces that you can spot these; they were also popular in Renaissance era paintings.
Any questions about Predella? Please leave any comments or queries below!
The idea for THATKid Tuesday stemmed from the Kid Pack’s glossary. The Kid Pack has supplemental exercises for after your Louvre hunt, from a Michelangelo Connect-the-Dots and a Mona Lisa sticker-puzzle to a Botticelli Spot-the-Difference. Good for train rides or long French dinners, kids can also pick up on some terms like composition, perspective and the lot. As THATMuse has grown to include the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert and Musée d’Orsay, THATKid Tuesday’s blog version has grown to include other examples. Tune in the first Tuesday of the month if you’d like another art history dose of THATKid.