South Kensington Museum London England Henry Cole Cunliffe Owen Victoria and Albert Museum cm575
"The South Kensington Museum," by Moncure D. Conway - see below. This is an original article from Harper's Magazine, Vol. LI, Sept., 1875 , 18 pp. (loose), 18 illustrations, 6 1/4" x 9 1/4".
About the Subject and/or Author:
The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. Named after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, it was founded in 1852, and has since grown to cover 12.5 acres (51,000 m2) and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, in virtually every medium, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest, important and most comprehensive in the world. The museum possesses the world's largest collection of post-classical sculpture, the holdings of Italian Renaissance items are the largest outside Italy. The departments of Asia include art from South Asia, China, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world. The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection, alongside the British Museum, Musée du Louvre and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, is amongst the largest in the Western world. Set in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, neighbouring institutions include the Natural History Museum and Science Museum, the V&A is located in what is termed London's "Albertopolis", an area of immense cultural, scientific and educational importance. Since 2001, the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation programme, which has seen a major overhaul of the departments, including the introduction of newer galleries, gardens, shops and visitor facilities. Following in similar vein to other national British museums, entrance to the museum has been free since 2001.
Sir Henry Cole (15 July 1808 – 18 April 1882) was an English civil servant and inventor who facilitated many innovations in commerce and education in 19th century Britain. Cole is credited with devising the concept of sending greetings cards at Christmas time, introducing the world's first commercial Christmas card in 1843. Henry Cole was born in Bath, and educated at Christ's Hospital in London. He began his career at the age of 15 at the Public Record Office, where he became Assistant Keeper and was instrumental in reforming the organisation and preservation of the British national archives. From 1837 to 1840, he worked as an assistant to Rowland Hill and played a key role in the introduction of the Penny Post. He is sometimes credited with the design of the world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black. In 1843, Cole introduced the world's first commercial Christmas card, commissioning artist John Callcott Horsley to make the artwork. Cole was personally interested in industrial design, and under the pseudonym Felix Summerly designed a number of items which went into production, including a prize-winning teapot manufactured by Minton. As Felix Summerly, he also wrote a series of children's books, including A book of stories from The home treasury; A hand-book for the architecture, sculpture, tombs, and decorations of Westminster Abbey (1859); An Alphabet of Quadrupeds (1844); and The most delectable history of Reynard the Fox (illustrated with twenty-four coloured pictures by Aldert van Everdingen) (1846). Through his membership of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, Cole lobbied government for support for his campaign to improve standards in industrial design. The backing of Prince Albert was secured, and in 1847 a royal charter was granted to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). Under the patronage of Prince Albert, Cole organised a successful Exhibition of Art Manufactures in 1847, with enlarged exhibitions following in 1848 and 1849. Cole visited the 1849 11th Quinquennial Paris Exhibition and noticed the lack of an exhibition open to international participants. He saw that the RSA's planned exhibitions for 1850 and 1851 could be adapted into a larger international exhibition, and he secured the backing of Queen Victoria to establish in 1850 the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to manage the new exhibition, under the Presidency of Prince Albert. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, from 1 May to 15 October 1851, and was an enormous popular and financial success, partially due to the astute management of Henry Cole. As one of the Commissioners, Cole was instrumental in the decision that the £186,000 surplus from the Great Exhibition would be used for improving science and art education in the United Kingdom. Land was purchased in the South Kensington area and developed as the centre for a number of educational and cultural institutions, known half-jokingly as "Albertopolis". Henry Cole was appointed the first General Superintendent of the Department of Practical Art, set up by the government to improve standards of art and design education in Britain with reference to their applicability to industry. In this capacity he was instrumental in the development of the Victoria and Albert Museum which had begun as the Museum of Ornamental Art in Marlborough House. Cole oversaw its move to its current site, and became first director of what was initially called South Kensington Museum from 1857 to 1873. In 1974 a part of the museum that was once known as the Huxley Building was renamed the Henry Cole Building; today it forms the Henry Cole Wing of the V&A.
Moncure Daniel Conway (March 17, 1832 – November 5, 1907) was an American abolitionist, Unitarian clergyman, and author. Conway was born of an old Virginia family in Falmouth, Stafford County. His father was a wealthy gentleman farmer, a slaveholder, and county judge whose home still stands in Falmouth at 305 King Street (aka River Road) along the Rappahannock River. Conway's mother was a homemaker and homeopathic physician. Both parents were Methodists, his father having left the Episcopal church, his mother the Presbyterian. Moncure's later opposition to slavery came from his mother and from his boyhood experiences. His father and three brothers remained staunchly pro-slavery. As a youth he himself briefly took a pro-slavery position, under the influence of a cousin, the Richmond editor John Moncure Daniel. He graduated at Dickinson College in 1849, studied law for a year, and then became a Methodist minister in his native state. In 1852, thanks largely to the influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson, his religious and political views underwent a radical change, and he entered the Harvard University school of divinity, where he graduated in 1854. Here he fell under the influence of "transcendentalism", and became an outspoken abolitionist. After graduation from Harvard University, Conway accepted a call to the First Unitarian Church of Washington, D.C., where he was ordained in 1855, but his anti-slavery views brought about his dismissal in 1856. On his return to Virginia, his abolitionist stance and his rumoured connection with the attempt to rescue the fugitive slave, Anthony Burns, in Boston, Massachusetts, aroused the bitter hostility of his old neighbours and friends. In consequence, he left the state. From 1856 to 1861 he was a Unitarian minister in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he also edited a short-lived liberal periodical called The Dial. After the Civil War broke out, Conway located several dozen of his father's slaves in Washington, DC., who had fled from Virginia, and escorted them through Maryland—still a slave state—to safety in Ohio. While in Cincinnati, Conway married Ellen Davis Dana. Ellen was a member of the Unitarian faith, a feminist and an abolitionist. The couple had four children. Despite the previous tension with his family over slavery issues, Conway nevertheless brought his bride to meet his family. His wife broke a Southern social constraint by hugging and kissing a young slave girl in front of family members. After this, it would take seventeen years before Conway reconciled with his family. Subsequently he became editor of the Commonwealth in Boston, and wrote The Rejected Stone (1861) and The Golden Hour (1862), both powerful pleas for emancipation. In 1862, after spending more and more time away from his church advancing the abolitionist cause, Conway left its ministry. He had grown dissatisfied with the theological, liturgical, and social conservatism of mainstream Unitarianism. After that, he maintained an uneasy and uncertain relationship with Unitarianism, in America and subsequently in England, until he made a clean break. In 1863, Conway was asked by American abolitionists to go to London to convince the United Kingdom that the American Civil War was a war of abolition. Under English influence, Conway eventually contacted the Confederate States of America "on behalf of the leading antislavery men of America," offering the preservation of the Confederacy after the war's end in exchange for emancipation of the slaves. His support by his sponsors was quickly and angrily withdrawn. Rather than go back to America, where he no longer felt welcome, he went briefly to Venice, Italy, where he was reunited with his wife and children. In 1864, he became the minister of the South Place Chapel and leader of the then named South Place Religious Society in Finsbury, London. He also abandoned theism that year after one of his sons died. His thinking continued to move from Emersonian transcendentalism toward a more humanistic "freethought". The South Place congregation and Conway soon left fellowship with the Unitarian Church. Conway remained the leader of South Place until 1886, when Stanton Coit took his place. Under Coit's leadership South Place was renamed to the South Place Ethical Society. However Coit's tenure ended in 1892 in a losing power struggle, and Conway resumed leadership until his death. In 1868 Conway was one of four speakers at the first open public meeting in support of women's suffrage in Great Britain. Conway's many literary and intellectual friends included Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Lyell, and Charles Darwin. In the 1870s and 1880s, he returned on and off to the United States. In 1875, he reconciled with his family. In 1897, Conway and his wife returned from London to New York City. Ellen, terminally ill, wished to die in the United States of America. She died on Christmas Day. As the Spanish American War approached, Conway became disaffected with his countrymen. He moved to France to devote much of the rest of his life to the peace movement and writing. Conway died alone in his Paris apartment on November 15, 1907. The Conway Hall in Holborn, London is named in his honour.
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