Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Temporary Suspension of Reality: The Victoria and Albert Museum

September 6, 2009 · No Comments

Outside the 'Telling Tales' exhibit

Outside the 'Telling Tales' exhibit

There were many things I adored about the V&A museum: the entrance way of marble Greek sculptures, the fashion wing including one of Princess Diana’s dresses. But what took my breath away the most was the fairy tale exhibit, Telling Tales. As many of you know, I have a childlike obsession with fairy tales and Disney movies, especially the Little Mermaid. But it is not the Disney story or the catchy songs that make me love these stories even as the years go by, but rather the way that these stories can transform a young child’s hopes and dreams into a story that suspends reality. These stories create a new world where children can hide for a little while. Who wouldn’t love that?

Well the Telling Tales exhibit at the V&A museum did just that: suspend reality and take the audience into a magical fantasy world. The works of art on display were amazing manifestations of the classical fairytales in furniture and sculpture. But that was not even the best part of the exhibit, rather it was the way that entire space was like a fairytale. Each room followed a different theme: the forest glade, the enchanted castle, and heaven and hell. To say that each of these rooms’ atmospheres matched their titles would be an understatement. When I entered the first room, the enchanted forest, all the walls and lighting matched that of a forest. It was likewise for each room. With this, the exhibit was able to achieve exactly what a fairytale is meant to: suspend reality.

The V&A museum mostly deals with exhibitions about design. Besides the suspension of reality, this show captures the elements of fairytales: dreams, hope, fear, beauty, and of course happy endings. Although the exhibit ended darkly with the heaven and hell room, I think in this way it remained grounded in realtiy. Afterall, we are not in a fairytale. And eventually the suspension of reality ends. And what better place to end it than with death, where everything ultimately ends?

Note: Photo slideshow of the V&A museum to come soon. However the Teling Tales Exhibit did not allow photography inside.

Categories: Megan · Museums
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